Optimistic "chosen family" books?
December 22, 2017 8:21 PM   Subscribe

I just reread the delightful The Goblin Emperor, and was struck among other things by how Maia essentially starts out with no one and ends up with a positive, close-knit chosen family. I was wondering what other books might strike a similar note, and thought I'd ask here for suggestions.

I'm not above starting in a dark place, provided there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Something with a romantic element would be appreciated. Sci-fi and/or fantasy is a bonus, though I've already read quite a few of what I'd consider to be mainstream contenders for this particular feeling—some of the Vorkosigan books, Becky Chambers, etc. Hit me with obscure and unfamiliar recommendations, if you would be so kind. :)
posted by Alensin to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Apologies, it's a film, not a book, but Antonia's Line (1995) is what you're looking for sans sci fi fantasy.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:29 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think that's a good description of two of my favorite series: the Liaden books I recommended to you in the spring (!) and also the Velveteen Vs. series that's free to read online and available on Kindle/Audible.
posted by Wobbuffet at 9:10 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy.
Mercedes Lackey - about a thousand Valdemar books.
Lies of Locke Lamora
Drew Hayes - Fred the Vampire Accountant
posted by irisclara at 9:13 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Much of Seanan McGuire is found family stuff. (Not her Incrypid work, and extra not anything under Mira Grant.) Sarah Rees Brennan In Other Lands. The VE Schwab Shades of Magic books.
posted by jeather at 9:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I was thinking that Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye books would fit the bill. Parental abandonment is the big theme of that series, but so is found family.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:23 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Susan Juby's Home to Woefield (alternate title: The Woefield Poultry Collective). It's about a young woman who moves to a tiny rural community from NYC after inheriting her great-uncle's farm and assembles a group of misfits to help her run it. There's a celebrity blogger who is also an agoraphobic alcoholic, a taciturn curmudgeon with a family estrangement, and an eleven year old chicken expert with a bad home situation. It's funny, touching, and optimistic.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:43 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

About a Boy by Nick Hornby.
posted by ipsative at 10:26 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys should fit the bill, I think.
posted by col_pogo at 10:51 PM on December 22, 2017

You want Martha Wells, as found family is a particular theme of hers. I would recommend the books of the Raksura, starting with The Cloud Roads, and the Fall of Ile-Rien, starting with The Wizard Hunters. Also The Death of the Necromancer, which is a one-off prequel-of-sorts to the Fall of Ile-Rien

Also, the books are just fun, with entertaining, vivid characters and smooth clear narrative stories.

Another series would be the Order of the Air by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham. Start with The Lost Ones. They're partly about aviation history and partly about a secret society of magicians keeping order in the world, but the main appeal to me is the characters and the bonds they form as a family/team to defend the world and each other.
posted by suelac at 11:39 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]

I am astonished to find your question here today, having myself come to AskMe just now to look in the archives for recommendations for something to read that is like the Goblin Emperor. Isn't it just the best book ever!!???

The Discovery of Witches series I enjoy for similar reasons - people choosing to question tradition and forge loving unions, with a fabulous historically inspired story.

And, it's fluff but it's enjoyable fluff: Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books. The core of this world, well especially the introductory trilogy, is a close community of people who work together to make their world a better place. (warning: there is torture, some sexual, in the third book, although not graphically depicted)
posted by AliceBlue at 5:23 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Goblin Emperor is one of my very favourite books and I am so glad you liked it! The next one that I absolutely devoured was Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw - it's an enjoyable romp in modern day London with a very close-knit extended family (some of whom happen to be differently alive) coming together to fight the real evil. All the immortal guys are the most delightful drama queens and it's just gorgeous. Also the author is very clever and you get to learn really cool stuff about things you never even thought of.

Read Strange Practice, it's worth it, and the second book in the trilogy comes out next summer but book one stands alone if you decide you don't like it.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 5:29 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

I of course immediately thought Lois McMaster Bujold and Becky Chambers - glad you’ve already found them!

If you haven’t branched out from the Vorkosigan books, I also love LMB’s Sharing Knife series. Great chosen family stuff, especially as the quartet continues. The first book is Beguilement.

The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher is another favorite series with a great cast of characters that become a chosen family. The first book is The Furies of Calderon.

I really liked the Rogues of the Republic books by Patrick Weekes for a great motley crew that isn’t all straight and white. The first book is The Palace Job.

Nthing Drew Hayes - the Fred books are particular favorites, but almost all his stuff has great found families.
posted by bananacabana at 10:01 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Many of Brian K. Vaughan's comics have a “found family” thread running through them.
Saga — co-created with artist Fiona Staples — is particularly packed with outcasts-who-are-thrown-together-and-find-ways-to-care-for-one-another-despite-their-societal-roles.
10 Reasons You Should Be Reading Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga (io9-Gizmodo)
posted by D.Billy at 10:28 AM on December 24, 2017

Going old-school, two of my favorite C.J. Cherryh books have that transition, only MUCH MUCH more paranoid along the way, Rimrunners and Cyteen.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 1:01 PM on December 25, 2017

Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City are all about chosen, "logical" family (contrasted with biological family). Not SF, though. But pretty fast, fun reads.
posted by kristi at 11:45 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just finished Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and it is very much about someone who is almost completely alone in the world but finds her chosen family. I loved it. There is darkness, but also humour and a little romance. I really recommend it!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:00 PM on January 1, 2018

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