recommend me some (kind of specific) books?
March 27, 2014 2:53 PM   Subscribe

Spring break is coming up, and the best part of spring break is reading all day - so I need to come up with a bunch of books to bring! I'm specifically looking for ghost stories, YA fantasy, historical romance, and travelogues, though if you know of something else fun and easy, feel free to chime in.

I don't want anything hard. I just finished Hild, and while I really enjoyed it, it also felt like work - I had to keep track of characters, figure out new words, etc. On vacation, that's not what I want. Fast-paced is good. Shortish (<600 pages) is good. Writing doesn't have to be amazing, but shouldn't be bad enough to distract me.

Types of books I've enjoyed on previous vacations:

- Horror (of the ghost/haunted house genre): creepy rather than gory. Shirley Jackson, House of Leaves, Ocean at the End of the Lane are all good

- Travelogues: I'm not interested in narratives of self-discovery while traveling. I like Peter Hessler a lot. I like to read about places and the people who live in them, but don't care much about the traveler as long as they write reasonably well.

- YA fantasy: Graceling, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Finnikin of the Rock, Blood Red Road...I sort of feel like I've exhausted this category, or at least the good parts of it, but I would love to be surprised.

- Historical romance: I liked Philippa Gregory before she got weird and believed in witches. I like Anya Seton. I also super love Robin Hood and King Arthur stories that feature female characters in a major role.

None of the recommendations from Goodreads or Amazon are particularly striking my fancy, but human brains are smarter than robot brains, at least for book recommendations. Thanks for your help!
posted by goodbyewaffles to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
King Arthur stories that feature female characters in a major role.

The Mists of Avalon?

Horror (of the ghost/haunted house genre): creepy rather than gory.

Tales of H.P. Lovecraft, edited/selected by Joyce Carol Oates is a nice intro to his stuff.
posted by jquinby at 2:59 PM on March 27, 2014

You might enjoy The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn - they're Regency Romances, and are lots of fun. There are 7+ of them, so if you do like them, they'll keep you busy for a while.
posted by dotgirl at 3:00 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Support your fellow MeFite and try Starglass (YA sci-fi).
posted by Etrigan at 3:01 PM on March 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: The Rook!

And on the travelogue front I really liked Travels in Siberia. It's surprisingly funny.
posted by something something at 3:05 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might enjoy the Chaos Walking series. It's YA. They're longish but quick reads and gripping, and not difficult to get though. The first one is The Knife of Never Letting Go.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:07 PM on March 27, 2014

Every House Is Haunted by Ian Rodgers is a collection of easy-reading ghost stories (mostly). There a few Lovecraftian type stories in it as well.
posted by moxiequz at 3:08 PM on March 27, 2014

Maybe the Temeraire series? It's closest to the YA fantasy category in that I would most certainly give it to teenagers to read, but it's an alternate universe Napoleanic war with dragons that's kind of fun.
posted by foxfirefey at 3:15 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Ballad of Frankie Silver and other Sharyn Mccrumb books. Hauntingly good!

A book I could read over and over again (on the travel angle): Arctic Homestead.

For complete awesomeness: non-fiction that reads like fiction: Unbroken
posted by Sassyfras at 3:16 PM on March 27, 2014

For classic creepy stories, try Algernon Blackwood. The John Silence stories are really gripping.
posted by vacapinta at 3:22 PM on March 27, 2014

For travelogue, try one of Simon Winchester's (perhaps The River at the Center of the Universe) or Ryzyard Kapuscinski (Polish war reporter who wrote about the places he visited)
posted by kbuxton at 3:25 PM on March 27, 2014

Historical romance: Georgette Heyer. Light, easy, fun, sparkling, and a classic for a reason. I'd start with Sylvester, False Colours, or The Unknown Ajax. A Civil Contract is widely held to be her best book, but it's even better if you read it after reading her other books first. (Note that she did write some turkeys. I generally agree with Jo Walton's rankings.

For YA fantasy crossed with historical romance, you might enjoy Sorcery and Cecelia, which is delightful and fun.
posted by pie ninja at 3:31 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might like The All Soul's Trilogy (only two books are out); good mix of romance, historical fiction, and fantasy.

Bill Bryson is a must for travelogs.
posted by damayanti at 3:31 PM on March 27, 2014

You are going to LOVE LOVE LOVE The Black Jewels Trilogy.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 3:32 PM on March 27, 2014

I was looking for something to follow up my YA fantasy binge and loved The Golem and the Jinni.
posted by advicepig at 4:30 PM on March 27, 2014

I have been enjoying Susanna Kearsley's "time slip" novels. The best so far is Winter Sea. It takes place in Scotland in the present day and in the early 1700s. It's a little historical, a little romance, a little travel, and a little paranormal.
posted by apricot at 4:51 PM on March 27, 2014

Best answer: For YA fantasy, have you read Seraphina by Rachel Hartman? Music, dragons, and an awesome female protagonist.

For something creepy, try The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee. From the blurb: Karen Foxlee's breathtaking novel weaves friendship, magic, and a murder mystery into something moving, real, and distinctly original. Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma would be a similar read.
posted by wsquared at 4:55 PM on March 27, 2014

I just finished reading 11-22-63 by Stephen King. Definitely fast-paced and easy to read, and one of his better books.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:25 PM on March 27, 2014

I feel like I keep recommending this on AskMe, but for creepy horror, try Night Film by Marisa Pessl. It reminded me a lot of House of Leaves.

Also the third book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is out soon: Dreams of Gods and Monsters, on sale April 8th.
posted by lyssabee at 5:51 PM on March 27, 2014

Best answer: For historical romance, I'll second the recommendation for the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, and throw in a recommendation for Eloisa James's Desperate Duchess series and Mary Balogh's Bedwyn family series. To give you an idea of what you're in for, the Bridgerton series is light, slightly clever, with very endearing/engaging characters. Eloisa James's characters are a little more sophisticated, and the sex scenes are possibly the best of the romances I read. Balogh's a tad more reserved, just in general, but what Balogh does really well is to bring forth the anticipation and yearning involved in romance. I've also been enjoying Courtney Milan's Turner series.

For YA fantasy, have you read Sarah Rees Brennan? She's got a couple of series out, and I think they're both pretty good. I also love Diana Wynne Jones--her books are maybe a bit younger than typical YA, but her writing is so good that it doesn't matter. The Chrestomanci books are amazing.

I envy your spring break of reading! This sounds like something I'd enjoy planning out, too.

Oh, and it's not YA fantasy, so it may not be your thing, but a couple of fantasy series that I've loved lately are Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series and NK Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy. Awesome stuff, not a "hard" read, excellent for spring break reading.
posted by hought20 at 5:58 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Shining Girls, creepy house, time travel and a serial killer with an exploration of women's lives throughout the 20th century.
posted by five_cents at 6:20 PM on March 27, 2014

I've just finished The Kingdom of Little Wounds. It's shelved as YA fantasy but it's really not YA. The quoted reviews on the Amazon page do a pretty good job of describing it, but it's kind of a horror/fairy tale/historical fiction hybrid. I loved it.
posted by CheeseLouise at 6:29 PM on March 27, 2014

Oh, and Diana Wynne Jones. Anything. You might particularly like The Time of the Ghost, which is a bit creepy and unsettling but not really scary. She and Neil G were friends (she is now dead, sadly) and he was a big fan of her work and vice versa. If you need a recommendation from someone you "know".
posted by Athanassiel at 7:40 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Diana Wynne Jones is a favourite holiday read of mine, too! She wrote ostensibly for children, but there's so much I still can enjoy now. I particularly like the Charmed Life series - quick reads all of them, and there are several in the series.
posted by undue influence at 9:19 PM on March 27, 2014

I keep coming back, sorry. Also The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley. Robin Hood + YA + strong female characters. Her other early works are also good, esp The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. Beauty is a big comfort read for me. Her later stuff is badly in need of an editor, but she does do nice world-building and always with the strong female characters.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:59 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you haven't read any of these yet, maybe try...
His Dark Materials
The Shining Girls (above) was good but also Zoo City
Episode 1 of The Daring Adventures of Captain Lucy Smokeheart from MeFite
Andhria was fun.
posted by Gotanda at 11:41 PM on March 27, 2014

I just finished Mirror. It fits all of your criteria in some ways. It is from 1978 but somewhat of a time-travel romance classic:
On the eve of wedding in 1978, Shay Garrett peers into the antique mirror in her family's longtime home, the famous Victorian Gingerbread House on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado, and falls unconscious only to wake in the body of her own grandmother Brandy on the eve of her wedding--in 1900. The virginal Brandy, in turn, awakes in Shay's body to discover herself pregnant. What follows is a fascinating look at how two women--and their families--cope with this strange situation
posted by RoadScholar at 4:48 AM on March 28, 2014

Best answer: YA fantasy:

The Night Circus

Cinder, Scarlet and Cress (aka The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer. This is set in the future and has some sci-fi elements (cyborgs, spaceships) as well as fantasy. Parts of it could also be considered dystopia as well.
posted by soelo at 7:52 AM on March 28, 2014

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
posted by stampsgal at 8:05 AM on March 28, 2014

Somebody recommended Sorcery and Cecelia earlier. If "Regency romance with magic" sounds like a genre you might enjoy, then as well as that and its two sequels, I'd like to suggest Mary Robinette Kowal, whose Glamourist Histories, starting with Shades of Milk and Honey, are a delight.

I've also just discovered Carrie Bebris, whose Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, starting with Pride and Prescience, feature the newly married Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy investigating a series of Austen-inspired mysteries with supernatural elements. There are six so far, one per completed Austen novel.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:02 AM on March 29, 2014

I enjoyed the Mindjack trilogy (first book's free on Kindle).
posted by Lexica at 5:15 PM on March 30, 2014

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