This is a Good Book Thursday, June 29, 2023

That swoosh sound you heard was June speeding past. Good grief.

My therapist and I were talking and she asked me what my favorite book was. I told her that was impossible, especially since it depended on how I was feeling at the time. I mean I love Heyer and Francis and Stout and Chase and about a million more, but I don’t think any of them are my favorites. (Well, Francis’s Hot Money is great. Stout’s Some Buried Caesar. Heyer’s Cotillion, and The Grand Sophy, and The Talisman Ring. Chase’s Carsington series and the Difficult Dukes. And of course Michael Gilbert’s The Quiet House and The Body of a Girl and . . .

That was a terrible thing for a therapist to do to me.

I finally came up with these five in no particular order:

Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens
McQuiston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue
Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London
Wells’ Murderbot
Connie Willis’s Take a Look at the Five and Ten, or maybe Crosstalk

So now you’re on the hot seat. Top five books. Let’s go.

157 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 29, 2023

  1. Oh no! This is too hard…

    My 5 favourite books in no particular order and there are others obviously which are as favourite as these 5…
    Let’s start again. So the 5 favourite books that are coming up to my mind at this exact moment as I am typing are:

    Paladin of Souls by Lois Mcmaster Bujold
    Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
    The last Emperor by Victoria Goddard
    Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
    Persuasion by Jane Austen
    The whole Touchstone series by Andrea K Höst

    Zut, I am already over and I have lots more to add…

  2. I meant of course Goddard’s Hands of the Emperor but I could also have put up there Addison’s Goblin Emperor instead or her Speaker for the Dead or LMB’s entire oeuvre…
    I’d better stop now.
    This is cruel Jenny!

          1. I’m rereading The Hallowed Hills. Bujold at her best, in my opinion . . . But Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls are high up there, too.

    1. Not Speaker for the dead (that’s Orson Scott Card), I meant Witness for the dead…

  3. Has anyone watched Dungeons and Dragons, Honor among thieves? This reminds me of the scene where they ask the undead warrior what his favorite book is so that he can answer his five questions and find rest… It’s hilarious.

    I don’t think that I can do five books. I can possibly do five authors who I reread embarrassingly often. Maybe.

    Jennifer Crusie
    Ilona Andrews
    Martha Wells
    Karan Anders
    CM Nascosta

    But there are so many more… Charlie Adhara, Meljean Brook, Anne Stuart, Jane Austen… Gah! Pulls out hair. It’s like picking a favorite food. Who could possibly do that? Macaroni and cheese is so good, but so is chocolate cake and fresh tomatoes and really good kimchi na d crappy ramen. Do I like any of them more than the other? No. They are incomparable.

    1. And they leave before asking the final question of the last skeleton, who sits there wondering if someone else will come along!

      1. We howled when he popped back up after the credits. And the first one they dig up, who accidently answers everyone else’s questions in about a minute… So funny.

    2. I was thinking the same thing! I couldn’t possibly pick just 5 favorite books, but 5 authors that I would always, without question or hesitation buy their books. That I could manage.

  4. I don’t know that I can do just five. Right now, the one on my mind is Ali Hazelwood’s Love Hypothesis, since I just finished it. It had me laughing out loud!

  5. Five favorite books? Impossible. But below are some favorite writers of mine, in no particular order. I re-read all of them regularly:
    Lois McMaster Bujold
    Jennifer Crusie
    Wen Spencer
    Martha Wells
    Jayne Ann Krentz
    Georgette Heyer

  6. And here is my reading in the past week:
    Sangu Mandanna’s The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches was a quiet, gentle novel. Not much plot, but lots of magic and a number of interesting characters. The author touched on several significant themes: being different, finding your place and your tribe in a hostile world, keeping secrets, and of course, racism, but her touch was contemplative rather than confrontational. I didn’t love it, but it was a light, mildly enjoyable book.
    Mary Jo Putney’s Lady of Fortune was an oldie, published originally in 1988, although it was the first time for me. Not bad. I enjoyed reading it once, but I would never re-read it.

  7. I absolutely cannot come up with five books that are my favourites. I need other criteria! Favourite intellectually stimulating? Favourite rereads? Favourite most impacted me? And even the answers to those would be different now than when I was 20. No, I can’t do it! Don’t make me!

    Instead, I’ll be boring and tell you what I read this week – mostly I listened to Ali Hazelwood’s latest, Love, Theoretically. Now I know I jumped up and down when it was released and shouted: “The new Ali Hazelwood book is out!” And many of you have read it and enjoyed it. And I enjoyed it but…listening to it was excruciating because the narrator had a breathless and over-the-top quality that was super irritating. And that may have played into my impression that this was my least favourite Hazelwood. But the other element I legitimately didn’t love was the all-too-typical trope of the perfect male MC having all his s**t together and the female MC not so much and he calls her on it and helps fix her. Ugh. This is one of the tropes that drove me over to M/M romances because it’s impossible for this trope to show up there on male/female fault lines. And I confess this is a trope that triggers me. I remember in the early stages of dating my husband that he said something I misunderstood and I narrowed my eyes at him and said: “I hope you don’t like rescuing people. I don’t need to be rescued.” Luckily, we cleared that up and it all ended well. ANYWAY…I may have imposed my own autobiographical narrative on this book but still – I expect more of Hazelwood’s books.

    Also read another NJ Lysk series. Werewolves – so much less complicated.

    1. Narrator can make or break a book for sure, but I think that the trope would bother me too. Especially when it is in a m/f setting, but really any time. I, too have issues with savior complexes.

  8. Your site is back up! Yay!

    My five are Crusie’s The Cinderella Deal, Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, Dorothy Gilman’s Kaleidoscope and its sequel, Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades, and Grace Burrowes’ The Truth About Dukes. Honorable mention goes to Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jean M. Auel’s The Valley of Horses, Crusie’s Maybe Next Time, and Travis Baldere’s Legends and Lattes. There are many more, but those are the ones I am rereading the most, lately. I have reread all the Crusie books so often, they really should be a separate category.

    1. Yes, I only put one Crusie on my list but really I like all of them. Welcome to Temptation is my « favourite » only because it was my first Crusie and the book that taught me that romance could be intelligent and funny.

  9. Wow, so difficult! My weekly/monthly/annual favorites tend to be in romance, mystery, and women’s fic genres, but my all-time faves list tacks toward lit fic (and must include the word “the,” apparently).

    The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
    The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    The Third Angel by Alice Hoffmann
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

  10. I’m going to hide behind the fact that I hate competitions.

    Best this week was Lessons in Chemistry. I’m glad people here said it cheers up as it goes on, or I might have baled early. I enjoyed it, but am glad I borrowed it from the library: it’s good, but I’m not desperate to have my own copy.

  11. Your therapist asked you this?! Is he or she licensed??

    Okay, I’ve mentioned before liking compendiums. Compendia? Collections of books under one cover. I hold as an example:

    Crusie, Jennifer. The Jennifer Crusie Collection . St. Martin’s Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. It contains seven novels, starting with Welcome to Temptation. The collection isn’t large enough. Seven Crusies are just a start.

    Baen did a fair job of gathering Bujold’s work under one cover, three stories at a time. Nine of eleven Penric and Desdemona stories are gathered in three volumes. Again, just a start. If they had the entire Vorkosiverse or the entire World of the Five Gods in a single cover, Those might be favorites.

    At one time, there was Heinlein’s The Past Through Tomorrow containing his entire (at the time) “Future History” series. It’s out of print. It was also incomplete, or I’d consider it for the list. But if I bring up Heinlein, I want a collection of all his so-called “young adult” novels. That’d be a favorite.

    I don’t love everything Susan Elizabeth Philips has written, but I’d consider a Chicago Stars collection as a favorite.

    I am a chocoholic. Give me a collection of JoAnna Carl Chocolate Mysteries. They’d be favorites, too.

    Could we gather the entire 1632 series under one cover? I’m sure it’s not much over 5,000,000 words.

    Five favorite books. Someone is on serious meds.

    I didn’t even get to mention the Murderbot Diaries, and have them all under one cover.

  12. Five favorite books? Nope. Not gonna. I’m not torturing myself that way. I couldn’t list my top fifty.

    But I’ve been reading some of my favorites this last week. Several Andre Norton books, including The Wraiths of Time. That was one of her later ones, with a female lead, who doesn’t need rescuing from anyone. That’s pretty impressive, when you consider the time period she was writing in. I also read the Sargasso of Space series, which was written in the 1950s. I was going to say there were no female characters in those books at all, but there were a couple of minor appearances. Still great books.

    Right now I’m rereading Lucius Parhelion, fabulous historical m/m romances set mostly in the early 1900s. Low angst, mostly short, but wonderful intelligent comfort reads. The publisher went out of business some years ago, but the author posted most of them on A03. I highly recommend them, especially if you need comfort after a bad day.

    1. I’ve been looking for Lucas Parhelion – thanks for telling me where to find them. Years and years ago PWWNN at AAR recommended her favorite m/m books and they were on the list – most of the others I’ve read and enjoyed so looking forward to these too!

  13. I listened to Evening Class by Maeve Binchy. Really enjoyed it. It has a wonderful cast of characters. Im currently listening to Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, which is really good, but I’m having to take breaks because it deals with difficult subjects.

    1. Demon Copperhead is a hard read, but well worth it. I had to skip to the end to make sure it wasn’t going to be awful, then go back and finish the book.

  14. Oh no, this is too hard. Help me! If you asked me tomorrow the list would be different but today the closest I can get is…

    Devil’s Cub/The Talisman Ring – Georgette Heyer (no I can’t choose between them, please don’t make me)
    Bet Me – Jennifer Crusie
    Persuasion – Jane Austen
    The Sunne In Splendour – Sharon Penman
    Chocolate Cake For Breakfast – Danielle Hawkins

    If I was allowed a bonus book, it would be Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce.

    Phew, now I need chocolate to recover from the emotional trauma of choosing!

  15. Tough, as everyone says. I’ll go with Top 5 based on number of re-reads…over the decades and continue to love:

    Watership Down/Richard Adams
    The Sherwood Ring/Marie Elizabeth Pope
    The New Girls/Beth Gutcheon
    The Devil’s Delilah/Loretta Chase
    Too Many Cooks/Rex Stout

    Fave series, re-read at least every 3 years: Ilona Andrews Magic…, Joan Wolf interwoven trad regencies, Fables graphic novels, KJ Charles interwoven historical roms, and bulk of Mary Stewarts romantic adventures.

    Oddball bonus: Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs. An oldie, slightly dated, but just a fast pick me up, LOL book to swing your mood upwards.

  16. I’m not going to look at anyone’s list. With the understanding that this is impossible,

    The Truth, Terry Pratchett (my first Pratchett)
    The Grand Sophy, Heyer
    The Curse of Chalion, Bujold
    Welcome to Temptation (or Agnes and the Hitman)
    Persuasion, Austen

    Now I’ll go look at everyone else, and thing, Darn, that’s one I should have listed…

    1. I have tried to read Persuasion, because so many of you have said you like it. What is it about it that draws you? I have quit it at least three times, after reading a chapter or two, and taking it up again, then dropping it again.

      1. I highly recommend the film adaptation from about twenty years ago, with Amanda Root & Ciaran Hinds. Might give you a jump-start.

      2. Persuasion is my favorite after Pride and Predjudice, but it definitely is a slow burn much like Emma. You don’t like anyone at the beginning, but I definitely love Ann by the end. She is a quiet character, more of a Jane than a Lizzie, who allowed herself to be talked out of everything that she wanted by her family because she believed that they knew better and had her best interest at heart. But she suffers for that and comes to realize that her family members are selfish and or stupid. And then she takes control of her life.

        1. Thanks for your explanation, Lupe. When I can see better, I will give it another try.

      3. It is the prototype second chance romance.
        I really like Anne. Wentworth is good too, the way he falls back in love with her.
        The secondary characters are excellently drawn as usual.
        The naval connections.
        That letter at the end of course.
        The settings are good too, Lyme Regis and Bath (where I lived for a long time).

        1. I love Persuasion, in part because it is a comedy of manners — showing how people appear to other people. Folks seldom are as attractive as they think they are, and their wants can be very petty. I find the gentle way in which Anne Eliot, and through her, Jane Austen, see others is very accepting. We all have our warts of one sort or another.

          And, I am reminded of my own hypocrisies, myths, and illusions whenever I reread Persuasion. I become more accepting of others’ quirks and find them humorous rather than annoying. It’s like giggling privately. Not smirking at all. Well, I remember for awhile before reverting to my judgmental self.

          I will stop here. Jan Kindwoman, my other message is that there is no reason you “should” like a book. I hate being told what to read or reminded that such and such is a great book.

  17. While I could at one time have listed my five favorite books, because I had actually written out a list of my top 20, that was decades ago and I’ve read thousands of more books since then. Now my top five might all be by Terry Pratchett.

    It’s easier to list my favorite authors and pick my favorite of their books.

    Terry Pratchett – Good Omens (Yes, I realize Neil Gaiman is a co-author) (Favorite Discworld would be Men at Arms, the second Guards book)
    Jenny Crusie – Welcome to Temptation
    Dick Francis – Hot Money
    Roger Zelazny – Nine Princes in Amber (I could just list the original Chronicles of Amber, and for years Lord of Light topped my list, and Zelazny was my answer for favorite author)

    Those were my buy on sight authors. I’m not sure I have any others now. Possibly Craig Johnson, but he only writes the Walt Longmire series. Ilona Andrews maybe.

    Patricia Briggs isn’t quite buy on sight, but close, and my favorite of her books is still The Hurog Duology, Dragon Bones and Dragon Blood.

    1. Patricia Briggs is auto buy for me, but I have to prepare myself before reading. And sometimes she is too dark for me to reread. But she has that magic that always pulls me in deep with the story.

    2. You are both spot on with Briggs. She is an autobuy but she can be very dark.. I totally love the hurog duology. The hero is excellent.

      1. I am very fond of the ‘smart man pretends to be dumb’ trope. Whether it’s for survival purposes, as in the Hurog books, or for entertainment as in one of Heyer’s.

      1. I’m with you. Love the Hurog duology and some of her other earlier stuff. Have faded totally away with her and the most recent series.

        1. I think it’s a pity that that’s where she had her success. So that’s what she’s run with, rather than the very engaging and highly original fantasies she used to write.

  18. Hoooo boy top 5. OK, let’s see:

    Getting Rid of Bradley
    The Blue Castle
    A Wrinkle in Time
    The Stand
    The Code of the Woosters or really any Wodehouse just pick one

  19. And I immediately realized that was a Pratchett-free list and THAT is why it’s impossible to name only 5

  20. For book club this week, I finished Solito by Javier Zamora. It is a true store about his journey from El Salvador to the United States as a child. It is a wonderful book and told with innocence and wonder and, of course, pain.

    I also restarted The Witch King by Martha Wells. The first time I read it, it took me a while to get into it. There is a lot of world building and a lot to understand, but by the middle I was all in. I did think that it ended somewhat abruptly, but I still loved it. I found myself thinking of the characters over the last week, which, to me, is the sign that a book that has become part of my world, so I am reading it again. This time, I am fully invested right from the first page and having a hard time putting it down. I can’t wait until the next one.

    I can’t do 5 favorite books, but I think I can do my top 5 writers:

    Martha Wells
    Jennifer Crusie
    Lisa Gardner
    Kate Atkinson
    and Lani Diane Rich, Robert Crais, Ilona Andrews, Terry Pratchett, Naomi Novik, T Kingfisher, Patrick Rothfuss, Alexis Hall, NK Jemison, Tana French, Trisha Ashley

    Ok, I’m cheating. But I am happy to be able to do so.

  21. Oh frabjous day the Hearts are back!!!

    Lordalmighty. Top 5. Okay, I’ll try to squeeze five down:

    Austen – basically all, but most of all, Pride and Prejudice
    Heyer – top favorite is Sylvester, but I love all the romances
    Pratchett – all Discworld, love witches (fave = Esme) & Watch, but top is Going Postal
    Crusie – basically all, but my favorite reread is The Cinderella Deal
    Bujold – love the Vorkosigans, esp. Cordelia’s Honor & Warrior’s Apprentice

    But this is so hard!!

    There are series that I love, and not possible to single one out — I totally agree with Jenny on the Murderbot series and the Rivers of London series, but couldn’t pick a favorite from them. I loved the Penric series and Sharing Knife series from Bujold. I love several series by Mary Balogh. I loved the Diana Wynne Jones Chrestomanci series, especially the Pinhoe Egg.

    And there are authors I’ve loved at various times, like Heinlein (oh, the Door Into Summer!) and PG Wodehouse (Leave it to Psmith). Sharon Shinn’s Twelve House series.

    Basically, a world with books is just a wonderful thing, period.

  22. I as well, have no direct favorites and depends on my mood, and being dictated by what I’m in the mood for, there are only a few I re read or re listen to as an always go to comfort to “sink into”

    You Suck, Christopher Moore
    Persuasion, Jane Austen
    Hot Money/ To the Hilt, Dick Francis
    Welcome to Temptation 😁
    Arrows of the Queen, Mercedes Lackey

    There are so many more I could list that I consider essential reads, I think I maybe we all have quite ‘problem”being addicted to great storytelling.

  23. My list changes over time. Years ago, I read a lot more romance, so Jayne Ann Krentz and Jenny Crusie would have been at the top of my list. Today though, I read more mystery and urban fantasy, so (in no particular order, except Pratchett is always at the top):

    Pratchett (entire Discworld oeuvre)
    Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series (especially in audio)
    Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London (especially the Peter Grant stories and especially in audio)
    Butcher’s Dresden Files (also especially in audio)
    Wells’s Murderbot series (and, yes, especially in audio, and this author would have been on my list 10+ years ago for the Ile Rien and Ships of Air series)

    Oh, heck. Reached the limit before Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels series), Patty Briggs (Mercy Thompson series0, LMB’s Vorkosiverse (mainly the ones starring Miles) and Chalion/Penric world (but not the Sharing Knife — never got into that part of the world), and the “Ancillary” series (author eludes me at the moment), and Donna Andrews (especially the You’ve Got E-mail series that’s currently out of print).

    1. Totally agree about the audio version of Rivers of London . The reader Kobna Holdbrook Smith brings it to life. You can tell he brings major acting chops to the characters he portrays. I’m sad I finished the last one (currently). I’m hoping for more but the last one felt like closure of some kind. I hope I’m wrong.

  24. Yes, my therapist did this to me. And she started by asking me for ONE. My one favorite book. Jeez. Good thing I’m moving in two weeks.

      1. Not Websters! My dad brought home a Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary. I used to browse it for fun (especially looking up “dirty” words.) Later, there was Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In on TV and I laughed every time they said, “Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls!”

  25. I have 6. No particular order.
    The Last Days of Summer – Steve Kluger – The first time I read it, I had to re-read it right then!
    The Last Convertible – Anton Myer (I just found a copy of the miniseries on DVD. Can’t wait to watch).
    Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen (I looked up in the middle of this book, and thought “I love this book!!”. And everyone I’ve given it to has loved it as well.).
    Faking It – this is my go-to book when I’ve had a bad week…. It never fails. I love the sense of family… it gets it right.
    Outlander – Diana Galbadon – I’m not a huge fan of 1st person books, but I can relate to Claire. I hear her voice, if that makes sense.
    Joy in the Morning – Betty Smith – Discovered this in high school… Re-read about once a year.

    1. Gosh you’re the only other person I’ve heard mention the book Joy in the Morning – also loved it back in the day!

    2. Thanks for mentioning Joy in the Morning. When my sister moved out that was one of the books she left behind. I loved that book. I might be able to pick my 5 favorite books from a decade. I also loved the All Creatures Great and Small series. Something from Judy Blume, House of God, Mary Stewart. I think that would be the 1970’s. Class of 1980.

  26. No particular order:

    Jack Higgins’ The Eagle Has Landed. I think I’ve told the story about how my BFF Sheryl and I bonded over this book when we were younglings and first working together in a bookstore. It’s more of a sentimental favourite now but it always has a place in my top 5.

    Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. My grade 5 teacher read this (and 2 other books) to us last period on Fridays and I have loved it since 1981. Camazotz and IT terrified me then and still do but Meg’s anger and determination and weirdness have buoyed me on many occasions. I read it at least once a year, preferably on a stormy day with a big mug of hot chocolate and popcorn. So much of my life was influenced by this book.

    Bet Me by Jennifer Somebody. I’m not a romance reader by nature but Bet Me is like a warm blanket on a cold day. Everything about it makes me happy. People stand up for each other, they are smart and fierce and by the end Min is cooking with butter and still wearing amazing shoes. She doesn’t have to give up anything that makes her herself to be with Cal and vice versa.

    Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Warrior’s Apprentice. I have been in love with Miles Vorkosigan (or possibly Admiral Naismith, I’m not completely sure) since I was 19 years old. Forward momentum is my motto in life.

    Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men. “Nae king! Nae quin! Nae laird! Nae master! We willna’ be fooled again!”

    1. Funny that. I was never in love with Miles. He always felt more annoying little brother. I just wanted to be Cordelia who so competently saves the day again and again.
      Also I always had a soft spot for that idiot Ivan, way before he is gloriously paired up in Captain Vorpatril’s alliance (love that book).

  27. Wow. My tastes have changed over time so this is a bunny hole I will not be traveling down. Five… snort. I started out with romance/gothic/spy thrillers in the 60s, stuff my professors assigned in the 70s, spent a couple decades reading mostly mysteries, then back to mostly romance and these days it’s some romance and lots of fantasy and science fiction. I was nodding yes, yes at the authors/titles in the comments and jotting down any authors I need to check out so thanks for that.

  28. The Lord of the Rings

    It has been part of my life for so long that I didn’t even think about it as a book/series. But every time I return I find something new.

    Jane Eyre. I can always go back to that one too.

    1. Okay you have been CHEATING this entire Good Book Thursday by peppering more than five choices all along the thread! I see what you’ve done here.

          1. Who made you the book police?

            Princess Bride. ha. Though I like the movie better…

          2. I responded to the job ad. “Suspicious mindset required. Highly controlling an asset.”

  29. I’m going to take a second run at this, approaching from a different angle. Ready?

    1. Library books, because I don’t have to own them or shelve them. I’ve spent many hours in libraries, and many more hours with books from libraries.

    2. Brick & Morter storebought books. Not that I own many any more, but like libraries, I’ve spent many hours browsing B. Dalton, Waldenbooks, Books-a-Million, and other walk-in bookstores.

    3. Mail order books. I’ve ordered a lot of books via mail, and even more online. Getting books via mail or UPS is always a treat.

    4. EBooks. Since I moved in 1997, my home library has shifted almost totally to digital books. At the beginning, there were a lot more Microsoft Reader books (.LIT format) and gradually that transformed into Mobi format (.PRC or .MOBI). Finally, a big chunk are in the Kindle Proprietary formats. I have more eBooks than I ever had physical books.

    and 5. Audio Books. Competing formats from Audible (that proprietary Amazon thing) and Blackstone Audio (mostly MP3).

    Those are my five favorite books. 🙂

    1. Ah, bookstores. I am still mourning the death (or murder, more like it) of Borders Book Store. Best such store I’ve ever shopped in.

  30. I can’t even choose my five favorite Heyers or my five favorite Martha Wells. Not gonna try.

    (Maybe this time the comments won’t decide I’m a robot?)

  31. I vote to censure that therapist.

    Instead of even trying to select ‘five favorite books’ out of the probably 5000+ I’ve read, across genres, which is f**king impossible, I will choose five beloved *romance* authors and the book of theirs that I a) re-read most often or b) re-read most recently with great pleasure.

    Jennifer Crusie – Anyone But You (recently re-read and loved it all over again)

    Jane Austen – Northanger Abbey (read for the 1st time this week and was OMG Entertained)

    KJ Charles – Think of England

    Con Riley – Charles

    Jay Hogan – Tamarillo Tart

    Then I will step off the path and say, among the books I read this week were ‘A Taste of Gold and Iron’ by Alexandra Rowland and ‘Nor Iron Bars a Cage’ by Kaje Harper, both of which were 5-star books for me.

    1. What peculiar point was your therapist trying to make ?

      I might be able to pick 20 or 30 favorite fiction authors:

      Jane Austen
      Jennifer somebody (call out here for Bet Me… especially the matching dinner scenes which tell us exactly how they will have eachothers backs in a HEA)
      Joanna Bourne
      Georgette Heyer, but with blacking out the anti Semitism
      Terry Pratchett
      Michael Gilbert
      Dick Francis
      Lois Mcmaster Bujold
      Rex Stout
      Margery Allingham
      Ngaio Marsh
      Loretta Chase
      Joan Wolf
      Diana Wynne Jones
      Sherry Thomas
      Courtney Milan
      Carolyn Stevemer
      Mary Balogh
      Nita Abrams
      Sarah Addison Allen
      Sharon Shinn
      Patricia Mckillip
      Ursula Leguin
      Megan Whalen Turner

      And then the authors who wrote one book or a few I loved but so far haven’t created a whole body of work I love. Goblin Emperor. Time Traveler’s Wife. A whole bunch by T K kingfisher but I won’t read horror. The year we fell down and The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen
      Whatever I’ve read by Peter Beagle but I need to read more
      Connie Brockway My Dearest Enemy
      And then he kissed her by Guhrke

      There are authors I admire but don’t reread and authors I don’t think are great but enjoy rereading…

      I was able to list my top 20 Balanchine ballets once. That was a tough call —after all he made 400 or so.

      1. Good point – why would a therapist ask that? I mean I’ve been asked as an icebreaker, even in an interview once. But therapy?

        1. Was talking about this IRL and it was suggested that why a book is your favorite might be a good conversation starter in therapy – the actual book is immaterial LOL.

      2. Not Dorothy L. Sayers along with Allingham and Marsh?

        I cannot pick five books because the one I am currently reading, if I am absorbed, is my favourite at that moment.
        That said, I love Faking It, by Crusie- I love the art, the scams, the characters. Just like being in that world.
        I have just recently found M.C. Beaton’s regencies, from this group, so they are my current obsession. I tried her Agatha Raisins once and didn’t love the narrative voice, but the regencies are humorous and fun.
        I discovered Heyer in the pandemic summer of 2020, what joy! The Grand Sophy, Venetia, so many more.
        I had a prolonged Tolkien phase, and then all things dragon.
        I have read my dad’s little orange Wodehouse penguins until they disintegrated.
        One day I want to reread all of Elizabeth Peters Egyptian novels, preferably while on a faluka going up the Nile. All of Ellis Peters Brother Cadfaels while on a walking tour of Wales.
        Dreams, dreams.

        1. Sayers is definitely a frequent reread. The occasional stereotypes notwithstanding.

  32. Agnes and the Hitman by .. well you all should know
    Maybe This Time by … ditto
    Morning Glory by Lavryle Spencer
    Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
    Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

    To make a top 10 I would add:
    Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood
    Thyme Out by Katie Fforde
    The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
    Rosie Meadows Regrets by Catherine Alliott
    Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews

    I’ve not added any books in the above lists which are in a series because it’s too complicated.

    Books series top 5 are:
    The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
    The Belgariad by David Eddings
    The Pern Series by Anne McCaffrey
    Nevermoor Series by Jessica Townsend.
    Harry Potter by JK Rowling

  33. It’s Agnes and the Hitman, and I’m not just saying that! I love a lot of books, but that’s the one I reread and give to friends the most. I’ve given it to people when they were going through really awful stuff and, even if that’s not their usual genre, they loved it and it made them feel better.

    I do also love the Rivers of London books—those are the ones I recommend second most. The audiobooks are perfection. I’ve listened to them all many times.

    1. True. I have loaned out a lot of books, but I have bought and given away Agnes and the Hitman.

  34. Thanks for the lists, life has been so boring lately, but I have to hang in there as there are more books to read

    Circle of Magic Series – Tamora Pierce
    Howl’s Moving Castle – Dianne Wynne Jones
    These Old Shades – Georgette Heyer
    The Mystery of the Blue Train – Agatha Christie
    The Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
    Phyrne Fisher Series by Kerry Underwood
    Terry Pratchett
    Donna Andrews
    JD Robb

    1. The Blue Train, interesting, I think that was one of the Christies I least enjoyed. Curious why it is a fave?

      1. I just like the heroine, a woman who has spent a lot of her life living quietly in St Mary’s Mead. Just a quiet sensible woman in a strange place, but she sees through everyone, her cousin, the victim, the victim’s husband and who the killer is. Hercule Poirot notices this quality about her and actually works with her.

    2. Yay! Someone else loves the Circle of Magic series. That one isn’t always as popular as the Lioness Rampent and other Tortall series.

      And Howl’s Moving Castle, both book and movie, is a delight.

      1. Circle of Magic is my most re-read series of hers. I love Briar – plant magic is always going get me on side, but I love him as well and his relationship with his mentor Rosethorn. But all of them really.

  35. Like everyone else said, this is hard. But I’ll give it a try.
    The Goblin Emperor
    The Curse of Chalion (hard to pick a favourite LMB, and the Cordelia books come a close second, but I think this one is top)
    The Ladies of Madrigyn (hard to pick a favourite Barbara Hambly, too)
    The Power of Three (ha, almost impossible to pick a favourite Diana Wynne Jones)
    Can’t make up my mind for the last one. One of Patrick O’Brian’s novels? A Gentleman in Moscow? Murderbot? The Ancillary books? Linesman?

    And yes, I do tend to veer towards fantasy and sf in my favourites, rather than romance.

  36. My favourite 5 books – depends on the day! However, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig and Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion are always on my list. I read them in high school and they had a profound effect on how I saw myself and the world. I remember the feeling of being mesmerized by their writing. As a kid growing up in suburban Toronto, most of Didion’s essays were way outside my day to day experience but a couple spoke to me directly – her 17 yr old self knocking at her mind’s door and demanding to be let in.

    Ami McKay’s The Birth House about a midwife in rural Nova Scotia is also an all time favourite.

    1. This brought up one of the reasons why I feel so uneasy about listing only five books as my favorites of all time.

      My favorites in high school were very different from my favorites in college, and my favorites while leading an adult life have gone in phases as I discovered new authors, bought books whenever I wanted to or borrowed library books with the same frequency.

      People have mentioned here books that I loved at some time in the past, but which I don’t return to — the Belgariad series, for example, which was a fantasy series done well, ‘starring’ a protagonist who starts out as an ignorant young boy in volume 1 but who’s become a Real Man by the final volume. It was a gripping series with lots of deadly peril and new magical opponents changing in each volume, but do I want to go back and read it again today? Somehow, no.

      And in high school and college, I read lots and lots of classics, to find out what they were about and why they were considered to classic — Anna Karenina, I recall, was a little hard to identify with as a 16-year-old…. Ivanhoe? Nice. Knighthood & such. War & Peace? Wow! They had balls with gowns and girls crushing on friends and handsome guys in Napoleonic Russia! Who knew? I really liked Platon Karataev and his feet wrapped in lengths of cotton cloth to survive the snow & cold.

      But they didn’t really last for me. Now I am looking for books by an author who explores a place and time — real or imagined — deeply and broadly. I want at least some main characters to be upright and basically honest, and to pursue good friendships and/or love relationships. I would like some humor, but mostly I would like things to matter. As good government mattered to Vetinari. As ordinary people’s lives mattered to Cordelia. As fairness & a sense of humor mattered to Elizabeth Bennett.

      I think I like series best overall, because when I like a place and a set of people I don’t want to say goodbye to them all forever, just because one plot has been tied into a neat bow. I wish Jane Austen had taken the time to write a book about Jane Fairfax and whatever happened in her life to meet her needs and make her happy. I’d like to know more about the town of Temptation, the children of Miles & Ivan & others on their world.

      I want to discover new worlds, I guess. Is that too much to ask?

  37. OK, she says rolling up sleeves and contemplating the impossible, by limiting myself to one book per author, and to books (re)read in the last ten years (to be sure they hold up), sorting by number of re-reads and I get …

    “Memory” – Lois McMaster Bujold (#11 Vorkosigan)
    “Dog Warrior” – Wen Spencer (#4 Ukiah Oregon)
    “I Dare” – Sharon & Steve Miller Lee (#7 Liaden)
    “Claimings, Tails, & Other Alien Artefacts” – Lyn Gala
    “The King of Attolia” – Megan Whalen Turner (#3 Thief)

    Plus … Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice), Jennifer Crusie (Agnes & the Hitman), Victoria Goddard (The Hands of the Emperor), Joanna Bourne (The Spymaster’s Lady), Patricia Briggs (Fair Game), Heidi Cullinan (Fever Pitch), KJ Charles (A Seditious Affair), Courtney Milan (Unveiled), Lisa Kleypas (Love in the Afternoon), Martha Wells (Exit Strategy), Alexis Hall (How to Bang a Billionaire), Ann Leckie (Ancillary Mercy), Ginn Hale (Champion of the Scarlet Wolf), Connie Brockway (The Other Guy’s Bride) etc etc ..

    Mainly this exercise reminds me how long it’s been since I have read some of the books I used to love – Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy, the Hurog books, Linda Howard’s “Now You See Her”, “MacKenzie’s Mountain” etc etc, Brockmann’s “Gone Too Far”, Liz Carlyle’s “A Woman Scorned”, Mary Balogh’s “Slightly Dangerous”, SEP’s “Match Me if You Can”, etc etc. So so many books to re-read!

    1. That could have been my list too, exactly! Memory is my favourite Miles!
      Apart from a couple I haven’t read which I now need to read asap obviously 🙂

      1. Isn’t Memory good! But I think it only works if you already know and love Miles. Which seems to be a bit of a trend for me, at least in my top five.

      1. Same here. And I’ve recommended it as a starter for the series —I should ask how that went.

        It’s the first one that really gets out of the universe as a giant war …

    2. Thanks for reminding me of so many great books. Been so “meh” lately. Will definitely go right now and get for “Memory.”

  38. Oddly enough that was a lot of fun – although I can’t imagine trying to be coherent in the moment. And lots of fun reading everybody else’s burgeoning top “five”!

    1. I think with all my commenting, I’ll soon be on Top 100 which barely scratches the surface.

  39. Clearly it was a trick question.

    I’m just trying to figure out the trick…

    YAY the hearts are back! BOO, I didn’t get the email notification yesterday (although today’s came through fine).

    I can’t even pick 5 favorite authors, although Crusie, Trisha Ashley, Dick Francis, Tamora Pierce, Donna Andrews, and Katie Fforde would definitely make the list.

  40. I can’t even choose a favorite song, there’s no way I could pick just 5 books.

  41. The only theory I can come up with is Jenny’s therapist was trying to create a counter-irritant to the problems of moving. Five AUTHORS is still impossible, let alone 5 books.

    I admire all of you who posted lists. And reminded me of favorites I haven’t thought of in a while.

  42. In no particular order:

    Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor

    Lois McMaster Bujold – Fantasy novels

    Heyer – Devil’s Cub, The Unknown Ajax

    Ilona Andrews – The Edge

    Grace Draven – Radiance

    (Also Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Loretta Chase, Jenny, Megan Whalen Turner, T. Kingfisher, Kate Stradling, Sharon Shinn, Victoria Goddard, argh, this is impossible).

  43. Persuasion, Austen
    Jane Eyre, Bronte
    Gaudy Night, Sayers
    Possession, Byatt
    Devil’s Cub, Heyer
    My Brother Michael, Mary Stewart
    Curse of Chalion, Bujold
    Bet Me, Crusie

    My Favorite Classic Romances

    1. Gaudy Night! I read fantasy and romance but I’m not much for mystery so had never read any Sayers until a few years ago when I unexpectedly found myself in hospital/intensive care. My husband reads mystery but is not a fan of romance. He knew I’d want something to read so he did his best and chose Busman’s Honeymoon. Obviously I loved it.

  44. 5 favorite books – uh no
    5 favorite authors – uh no

    Jenny – I think the cheese may have slipped off of your therapists cracker!

    I can narrow down to 7 favorite authors that I reread all the time

    Jennifer Crusie
    Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    Jayne Ann Krentz aka Amanda Quick aka Jayne Castle
    (currently rereading AQ’ s Burning Cove series)
    Jane Austen

    A group I like to call the Sarah’s
    Sarah Wynde – Tasamara series
    Sarah Addison Allen
    Sarah Kate Lynch

    I am about to reread Deborah Blake’s Baba Yaga series & I am soooo happy!

  45. I immediately thought of Nine Coaches Waiting and The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart . I was 12 or 13? First adult books. So many favourite authors and books.

    Reading a book by a new author sets us on a lovely journey. Impossible task.

    Last weekend, I told my niece that Jennifer Crusie is my favourite author. She loves Bet Me. Sending her books.

    Going to read the comments now. Glad the hearts are working again.

  46. Because of the “Five Favorites” fiasco, we didn’t play “What’d we read this week, Brain?” Answer: “Same thing we read every week, Pinky; books that take over our world.”

    This week, I continued reading that Variation on a Theme (Book 4) serial. Three new chapters, as usual. It’s One Of My Favorites, or it was while I was reading it.

    I read some more of David Weber’s treecat stories. A Beautiful Friendship, which contains “A Beautiful Friendship” and “With Friends Like These.” Also, “The Stray” in the anthology Worlds of Honor. They were One Of My Favorites, at least while I was reading them.

    Rereading A Matter of Security by Bjorn Hasseler. It’s One Of My Favorites, or it was while I was reading it.

    I watched a lot of Netflix and chilled. I watched seven episodes of Carmen SanDiego which claims to be a kids’ cartoon (TV-Y7). It’s One Of My Favorites, or it was while I was watching it.

    I also watched a bunch of Gilmore Girls. Rory is a Yale Frosh. It’s One Of My Favorites, or it was while I was watching it.

    I watched The Flash. The musical crossover episode with Supergirl. It’s One Of My Favorites, or it was while I was watching it.

    Also Supergirl. I missed all these DC Superhero shows when they were new. Now it’s One Of My Favorites, or it was while I was watching it.

    Odd. I’m feeling very fickle.

  47. Just noticed that the ebook of A Taste of Good and Iron is on special offer on Amazon UK today for 99p.

  48. Damn. I’mma throw my toys outta my cot and not play.

    I just can’t. It’s the books I bought and didn’t sell, or donate in the first true declutter. So you’d think I just have to look on the book shelf.

    Problem is, some were library books that I would re-read once a year or so because I needed the comfort. And the cost of buying them was prohibitive. So I can not even think. 😭🤷🏻‍♀️

  49. Jenny, I think your therapist is one smart lady. Look at all the thought that Arghers are putting into their answers. And, even in a group of like-minded readers, the shares and the one-offs are telling. Mostly, the way in which each of answers the question is revealing.

    My favorite question for getting a group to open up to each other is: What’s your favorite scar?

    That might be only suited to younger folks, though. Maybe in my current age group it would be: what you’re favorite surgery? Or what’s your favorite diagnosis?

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