More books please!
November 22, 2022 1:33 PM   Subscribe

I've discovered new genres and now I need to find all the books. Actually 2 genres.

- Magic but in our world. Examples are the Scholomance series by Naomi Novik, A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske, Legendborn by Tracy Deonn.
- Science fiction but again set in our world The Kaiju Preservation Society, A long Journey to a small angry planet Becky Chambers, Hail Mary Andy Weir

So I'm looking for more books like this, and I'm just not having a lot of luck. I'm not even sure what binds these all together. Like I said, these genres are new to me, and my usual spots for new books aren't helping me find more!

I'm open to YA, LGBQTIA+.
I'm usually pretty good at finding books I want to read, but these ones are leaving me stumped.

I enjoyed Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series, and Alex Jacka series by Benedict Jacka which I think both fit in above categories as well. Also TJ Klune

I normally read action (Gray Man, Orphan X, David Baldacci), Crime / Mystery(Peter Robinson, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Deanna Raybourn, Jack Reacher) Life Stories (Marian Keyes, Fiona Walker), romance / beach reads. Mentioned authors/series are just samples, I don't limit to those, just wanted to give an overview of what I do like

Not a huge fan of Suspense (hated Gone Girl, and similar type of books).

Any suggestions??
posted by Ftsqg to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
have you read The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman?
posted by virve at 1:41 PM on November 22 [12 favorites]

posted by heavenknows at 1:44 PM on November 22 [12 favorites]

"Magic but in our world" is called urban fantasy.
posted by spiderbeforesunset at 1:52 PM on November 22 [7 favorites]

If you liked Freya Marske, you should try the Charm of Magpies series by KJ Charles. She has a couple of other magic-in-our-world ones that I haven't read: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal and Spectred Isle.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:52 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

And older one that is still very dear to me:
Emma Bill, War for the Oaks. Even better if you like music.
posted by PussKillian at 1:52 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]

"Urban Fantasy" is a subgenre that might have some you'd like (where the "urban" is "our world"). Say, "King Rat" or "Kraken" by China Miéville. Or maybe "Neverwhere" or "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman?
posted by sevenless at 1:53 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]

By "in our world" you mean "basically our world except magic has altered its history and culture", right, not "our world but there is secret magic so everything is the same except secret magic"?

They are pretty light, but I really enjoyed Kim Newman's Secret Files of the Diogenes Club stories. The Man from the Diogenes Club has a couple of genuinely scary and gruesome stories, so if you read that one too, be prepared.

(Kim Newman also wrote a decreasingly gruesome our-world-but-with-vampires series starting with Anno Dracula which I enjoyed a lot. They're not horror but the first two have a couple of bloody and unsettling scenes that are pretty strong sauce if you're not a horror fan.)

I also like Caroline Stevermer's College of Magics duology and the book she wrote with Patricia Wrede, Sorcery and Cecilia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot. (There are sequels but they are not bad but lesser.)

Of course, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell is the canonical Large Regency Book.

Diana Wynne Jones's kids' books are mostly not set in our world per se, but The Ogre Downstairs, Eight Days of Luke and most especially Archer's Goon are.

Aliette de Bodard wrote a series set in the far future that is sort of the Vietnamese Diaspora In Space - the Xuya books and stories. I really like those.
posted by Frowner at 2:09 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]

I really enjoyed the Blue Ant series by William Gibson
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:09 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Becky Chambers' work is often referred to as "solarpunk" -- you might enjoy reading more books with that tag! As a genre, solarpunk is still very much in development, but Wikipedia says it's "a literary and artistic movement that envisions and works toward actualizing a sustainable future interconnected with nature and community." Solarpunk books and stories are generally optimistic, and often set in a near-future or plausible-future worlds where folks have figured out, or are in the process of figuring out, how to get past some of the social and environmental problems we're dealing with today.

Personally, I've been working my way through the fiction reading list from r/solarpunk and loving it. Record of a Spaceborn Few (also by Becky Chambers) and The Murderbot Diaries (by Martha Wells - I highly recommend the audiobooks) have been some of my favorite reads this year. Another of my favorites, a very solarpunk book that's not on that list, is A Half-Built Garden by Ruth Emrys. The premise is that aliens arrive and they're so glad to see us! But they say to survive, we need to get off the environmentally-ravaged planet -- just when we've started to figure out how to live in harmony with it. It's great -- highly recommended.
posted by ourobouros at 2:27 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]

Science fiction but in our world is called hard sci fi. It's my favorite genre. Check out this earlier question of mine for some recs in that vein.

You may also like the results you find searching for speculative fiction generally.

I recently read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It's a really good example I think of the lightest side of hard sci fi. It's very much a people and relationship driven story, set in our world but just speculatively different enough to be deeply wrong.
posted by phunniemee at 2:29 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Since you mention YA, I get to recommend one of my favorite fantasy authors: Frances Hardinge. Several of her works are set in our world, in various time periods. She is great at really inventive spooky fantasy and compelling characters.

Here is a link to descriptions of her books. Verdigris Deep, Cuckoo's Song, The Lie Tree, and A Skinful of Shadows are all set in our world. The Lie Tree is my favorite, but they're all excellent.
posted by darchildre at 2:33 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]

Seanan McGuire writes multiple different urban fantasy series--her October Daye series is heavily steeped in Shakespeare and more "traditional" folklore, while still being very much of our world, while her Ghost Roads series is based around urban legends and hitchhiker tales. I love them both. There's also her InCryptid series, about a family protecting cryptids (legendary/mythical monsters) from those that would exterminate them all. And that's not even all her series! I highly recommend her work.
posted by epj at 2:45 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

Maybe Magical Realism is another search term?

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke might tickle your fancy.
posted by freethefeet at 2:46 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

oh baby if you like Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys is a treat. The audiobook version narrated by Lenny Henry is ... like, a treat squared. Mild suspense (as has American Gods and Neverwhere, mentioned above) but mainly to drive the narrative, not as the focus of the story.
posted by adekllny at 2:53 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Magic but in our world: the Golem/Jinni books by Helene Wecker, and Sourdough by Robin Sloan
posted by knile at 3:12 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

Two well-known examples from the last century are Heinlein's Magic, Inc. and Randall Garett's alt.history stories featuring Lord Darcy.
posted by Rash at 3:49 PM on November 22

Dangit, autocorrect turned Emma Bull into Bill above. Anyway, another two authors I love who do magic in this world (which is sometimes called urban fantasy and then that kind of got taken over by werewolf detectives in love with vampires or vice versa (no shade, I read some of these too). Anyway, look into Tim Powers (pick the one that strikes your fancy) and Sean Stewart ( Mockingbird or Perfect Circle or whatever strikes your fancy.) Also depending on your tastes you may like Charles de Lint.
posted by PussKillian at 4:07 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

James Allan Gardner, Expendable. First in the Festina Ramos series, The League of Peoples.
posted by Enid Lareg at 4:13 PM on November 22

I love Becky Chambers and was recently introduced to Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki which was delightful. Highly recommend
posted by danapiper at 4:59 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]

Check out Cory Doctorow's stuff - especially "Little Brother", "Homeland", "Pirate Cinema", "For The Win" - but generally good, mainly in our world/timeframe work.
posted by TimHare at 5:39 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. The first book is Over Sea, Under Stone but nearly everyone agrees the book to start with is the second book which gives the series its title. This is the perfect time of the year to start reading it too because The Dark is Rising book is set during midwinter. After you've read The Dark is Rising, read Over Sea, Under Stone and then continue the series in publican order.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 5:58 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]

Agree with the Hardinge recommendation.

I think you will really like Kate Milford's The Broken Lands. The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge is the backdrop for a fabulous YA fantasy novel.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:23 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend Daniel O'Malley's oeuvre- The Rook, Stiletto, and Blitz. They're set in the modern world, with mystical powers, and an infinite amount of hilariously accurate supernatural bureaucracy.
posted by aint broke at 9:27 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]

Dresden Files (Jim Butcher) is often the go to urban fantasy series (for good reason!)

The UF subreddit has a whole FAQ including recommendation threads.
posted by mattdini at 9:43 PM on November 22

Neil Gaiman's novels usually involve a character bridging the everyday world to some kind of magical realm. In Neverwhere and Stardust the action is mostly set in the magical realm, but in Anansi Boys and Ocean at the End of the Lane it's more about the real world with magic bleeding in.

You'll probably also want to check out The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I think it's right on the nose.

Christopher Moore's Fluke is set in the modern, non-magical world, and eventually takes a wacko turn into sci-fi. Sacre Bleu uses the real French Impressionists as a starting point and blends in a magical monster story. Of course, his genre tends to be ____ set in our world but with extra gratuitous cursing and gross-out humor.
posted by polecat at 10:30 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Our world but with magic in it - Little, Big by John Crowley and more ambiguously so, AEgypt
posted by crocomancer at 1:23 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]

For sci-fi here and now: "Something Coming Through" (2015) by Paul McAuley (and I think there is a sequel or two). Wikipedia says that this "featur[es] elements of science fiction and crime fiction", which suggests a combination of genres that might help you find more books.

Also "The Peripheral" and "Agency" by William Gibson. "Earth" by David Brin?

Oh, and probably "Termination Shock" by Neal Stephenson (although it's a bit more "sci" than "fi").

Then for magic-ish and sci-fi-ish, also contemporary: Nicholas Harkaway's "The Gone Away World", "Angelmaker", "Tigerman" and "Gnomon", in any order (all totally unrelated to each other).
posted by manyon at 1:39 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]

Magic in our world sounds a LOT like Ben Aaronovitch's "Rivers of London" books.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:01 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]

The Everness series by Ian McDonald (starts with Planesrunner) is a great example of the sci-fi side of this, and nowhere near as well known as it should be.
posted by protorp at 5:13 AM on November 23

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa is a delightful and thought-provoking story about a special bookstore, people who love books, a magical cat and a mysterious quest.
posted by mightshould at 6:26 AM on November 23

The City and The City is sci-fi/fantasy set in two fictional city-states, but otherwise (IIRC) takes place in "our" world.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:13 AM on November 23

Magic, but in our world, Nigeria: Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch/Nsibidi Scripts series.
Magic, but in our world, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky: Kim Harrison's Hollows series.
posted by indexy at 8:10 AM on November 23

I’m not sure if this is precisely the genre (maybe your second defined genre?), but my teenager loved the Scythe books by Neal Shusterman. They’re more like here and now dystopia - a society very much like ours with a key difference or two. We’ve also seen adults reading them, for what it’s worth.
posted by saltykitten at 9:24 AM on November 23

Oh, a warning: I’m not sure if this has been fixed, but much to our amusement, Alexa *consistently* heard “Scythe” (regardless of who in our household asked) as “The Penis Book,” and read us samples of same. Scythe is not about the care of one’s penis, just FYI.
posted by saltykitten at 9:27 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]

YA fantasy: the Young Wizards novel series by Diane Duane (first book: So you Want to Be a Wizard)
posted by sigmagalator at 2:57 PM on November 23

Oh a comfort read in the urban fantasy genre is Robin McKinley's Sunshine.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:21 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]

N.K. Jemisin's The City We Became and its sequel The World We Make seem like they would be up your alley. Especially if you have any connection to or interest in NYC. A mix of sci-fi and magic creeping into modern-day NYC.

Kindred by Octavia Butler is also a wonderful magic/sci-fi bleeding into the current world (circa the book's 1979 publication date) novel. I say wonderful because it's an excellent book, not because everything that happens in it is pleasant.
posted by snaw at 3:55 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]

Magic: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune.
posted by kristi at 4:02 PM on November 23 [3 favorites]

ourobouros: "A Half-Built Garden by Ruth Emrys. The premise is that aliens arrive and they're so glad to see us! But they say to survive, we need to get off the environmentally-ravaged planet -- just when we've started to figure out how to live in harmony with it. It's great -- highly recommended."

Just to hammer this home. It's a really great book.
posted by signal at 6:14 PM on November 23

Based on at least one answer above I gather Sci-Fi in our world but in the very distant future is acceptable (?). You might consider "To Sleep in a Sea of Stars" by Christopher Paolini. It's a very large book and epic in its scope. I enjoyed the book a great deal, but as always YMMV.
posted by forthright at 7:06 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]

Bryan Camp
posted by Jacen at 9:51 PM on November 23

The City and the City is what I came to say, but also
the very-near-future of Version Control by Dexter Palmer and The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfeld, which both haunted me for different reasons.
posted by athirstforsalt at 10:47 PM on November 24

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