YA Fantasy 101 Syllabus | Top Ten Tuesday

YA Fantasy 101 Syllabus | Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I’m not totally sure I would be qualified to teach this course, but I’d love to take it.

  1. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
    Ideally I’d prefer to study The Lord of The Rings, but we’d never finished ten books if we did that.
  2. Sabriel by Garth Nix
    This is a few years old now, and provides a nice bridge between Tolkien and more recent works.
  3. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
    Obviously this had a massive impact on YA Fantasy. I prefer some of the later books, but there’s a (very small) chance that some students haven’t read this series before.
  4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
    I’d be tempted to study Stardust, which is my favourite Gaiman, but this is a great introduction to urban fantasy.
  5. Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
    At this point I think it’s time to look at someone playing with the tropes of fantasy, and no one does that better than Pratchett. Any Discworld novel would work for this, but if I have to cover something in depth I may as well pick one of my favourites.
  6. Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice
    This would be our first foray into some darker fantasy, and has the added bonus of demonstrating everything that’s wrong with Twilight.
  7. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
    Partly I’d want to talk about constructing fantasy worlds and integrating back story in a non-clunky way, but mostly I just love this book.
  8. The Owl Service by Alan Garner
    This is a nice eerie atmospheric one, bordering on magical realism.
  9. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
    More beautiful world building, but in a totally different style. This would also be a good point to compare the magic systems of the books we’d studied.
  10. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
    This isn’t itself a fantasy book, but it’s a great look at the impact YA fantasy has on people, particularly actual those who are actually young adults, and it also looks at how the internet is changing the relationship between authors and readers, which seems like a good thing to think about at the end of the course.

Please forgive me if this post is gobbledegook, I’ve worked 8.5 hours today.

Top Ten Tuesday: All Time Favourite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday: All Time Favourite Authors

This is my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday, which is a weekly (duh) meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I’m not going to give explanations for each author individually because my feelings about all of them are more or less the same – they write excellent words in an excellent order and I recommend you read anything they have ever written. I have, however, included pictures of my favourite book by each of them. They are also not in any particular order, because… I can’t. Incidentally, by total coincidence, I have five men and five women, which pleases me.

Terry Pratchett
J. R. R. Tolkien
C. S. Lewis
Hilary McKay
Rainbow Rowell
Neil Gaiman
John Green
L. M. Montgomery
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Kate Atkinson

#ayearathon wrap-up

#ayearathon wrap-up

This month, I decided to participate in my first ever readathon. At least, my first deliberate one. I have been known to read like a crazy person and drop all other responsibilities before now, but doing that alongside other people is new.

My plan for this month was to read books that made me feel guilty. Books that watched me from my shelves and judged me for the dust they had gathered sitting there. So I went looking for a readathon to help motivate me, and lo and behold, the March #ayearathon theme was bench warmers. It couldn’t be just a coincidence, right? Well, actually, yes, it probably could, but no matter. It was a helpful one.

The readathon ran from Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th March, so I scheduled myself an ambitious tbr pile of six books (Dracula, The Quantum Thief, The SilmarillionThe Vampire Lestat, The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, and The Sandman: Seasons of Mists) and prepared to read my little heart out. It turned out to be a smidge too ambitious, but we’ll get to that.

On Monday and Tuesday I read Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Somehow, I managed to be a goth for three years from the ages of fifteen to eighteen without ever reading probably the most famous work of gothic literature. I don’t know how that happened, really. I did read some Edgar Allen Poe, and Wuthering Heights, and Interview with the Vampire, so I wasn’t a total failure. I also read Twilight, but in my defence I did subsequently burn it. (I do not, under any circumstances condone or recommend the burning of books. Even Twilight. Burning books is bad unless you are dying of cold. And even then you might first consider a book blanket of some kind. But I did it that one time for a friend who required catharsis.) I seem to have got somewhat off-topic.

So yes, Dracula. On the whole, I really enjoyed it. There were a few occasions around three-quarters of the way in when I wanted to throw the book across the room because everyone was being an idiot, but I persevered and it got better again. On the whole, I recommend it, especially if you’re in the mood for some Victorian melodrama. 4/5 stars.

I was going to read The Vampire Lestat next, but I decided I needed a break from vampires, so instead I picked up The Quantum Thief. This is hard (very hard) sci-fi written by an actual proper scientist, Hannu Rajaniemi. I’ve started it a couple of times before and then stopped because I had no idea what was going on. In the end, I figured out that you just have to power through that. There are very few explanations of the futuristic technology in this book, or what specifically it can do, but I’m not sure that big chunks of exposition would improve the story. They would just slow it down. As you read, you pick up what can and can’t be done, and it doesn’t really matter exactly how it all works. The people are still people, and they still want the things people usually want. Mostly sex and immortality and a life-purpose. That’s not futuristic at all. I really enjoyed this book once I got the hang of how the read it. Also 4/5 stars.

At this point it was around Thursday lunchtime, and that’s when I made my big mistake, at least in terms of readathoning. I started The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkien. By the end of Sunday, I’d got maybe a quarter of the way through it. Don’t get me wrong, I love this book. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was actual ancient myth, not something that all came from the head of a single man not so long ago. But it can’t be read quickly, or without careful attention. At some points I had to note down names and family trees to keep track of who was who. I have quite a lot to say about this book, but I’m not sure that it’s really a review. It’s just exciting to read it, and put all the pieces together, and spot the references to people or races or places that I know about. I often had to stop reading to tell my husband (who bought me the book) that I found Galadriel, or Elbereth, or Gondolin, or that I knew now where dwarves came from, and where the elves were sailing to. Retelling the story isn’t really interesting, though, so… we’ll see. A review might happen.

So, yes. In summary, I finished two books last week, and I read 916 pages in total. I’m a little disappointed with that, because I hoped to at least hit 1000 pages, but I think my inexperience with readathons lead to me choosing some books that weren’t really appropriate, and that’s okay, because I’ll know next time. And there will definitely be a next time, because I had a lot of fun. Again, again!