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I bought Quicksilver last year and came home from a trip to B&N this weekend with Anathem. My son has another Stephenson, but I can't remember the title. I would really like to read something by Stephenson sooner rather than later, but I'm very indecisive as to which one I should start with since they're all humonguous!

Jonathan Strange is wonderful. When I love Byatt, I really really love her, but I think Djinn is one of the story collections that didn't click with me.


I tried Quicksilver. It was very heavy- I struggled through a hundred pages and then gave up. I did really love Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell though, and while The Bloody Chamber wasn't exactly to my taste, it was still good. I seem to have had the Lord Dunsany book on my list for ages, too.


I didn't make it through Quicksilver either, though I may try again. LOVE Jonathan Strange. Adore Angela Carter, and the story "The Company of Wolves" inspired one of my favorite movies of all time. But I'm not big on short stories, really, and prefer her novels for the most part.

I do love "A Fine and Private Place" and think you'd probably really enjoy it.

And just to be obnoxious, I'd like to suggest a book you don't even have on the list. We just lost the amazing, gifted writer Diana Wynne Jones this week; any book by her is worth reading, but I especially recommend "Fire and Hemlock", "The Homeward Bounders" and "Dogsbody."


Susan--The size does seem a little sobering to me, too. I know I shouldn't pick up a book like that but....maybe I should start small and work my way up? I've not read any of Byatt's short stories--maybe I'll dip into a few of them and see how they go.
Jeane--I think I'd like the Clarke book--not sure why I've not yet read it. Thanks for the heads up on the Stephenson--it seems quite an undertaking and I'm not quite sure I am up to it right now. Poor Lord Dunsany may be sitting a bit longer...I'm not sure which I am in the mood for as they all sound interesting in different ways!
Oolookitty--Quicksilver looks so good, but I think it might be one better attempted when you (I!) can put all my attention on it, which might not be right now. I've been leaning towards the Beagle actually--it sounds unusual and not something I would normally read, but still very appealing (and short). I love suggestions, so don't think you are obnoxious at all (very much the contrary!) so I am off to check out Diana Wynne Jones. The name is familiar but I've not read anything by her and saw via other bloggers that she just passed away. (Always very sad when a popular author dies). I'll see if my library has either of these books--I take it she wrote fantasy? She seems much loved by many readers!


I read Angela Carter and Dunsany, they are both good but very different. I'm reading retellings of The Little Red Riding Hood and am planning on reading myths and folktales from different regions. Since I have a master in cultural anthropology and specialized in religion and mythology I have tons of books still. Some are not equally inetersting to everybody but some are worth sharing. Have you heard of Daughters of the Copper Woman? It sounds lovely.

Kristen M.

I started the Angela Carter book last fall but couldn't get through the first story. I think the timing was wrong or something. I've held on to it but don't know when I'll be picking it up. I loved Jonathan Strange too and want to read the Peter Beagle book at some point. I'm really looking forward to this challenge!


The Clarke book is one that sat on my shelf forever and I finally gave it a go. SO glad I did; what a refreshing suprise! I recommend that over Quicksilver, which I found interesting at times, but tedious overall. Either way I agree with you: reading should be fun, not a "challenge"!


I'm going to echo the remark above. Diana Wynne Jones was one of the great fantasy writers and I can't say how sad I am at her death. If you haven't read anything by her then 'Fire and Hemlock' of 'Hexwood' would both be great places to start.


I too bought Jonathan Strange and have yet to read it! So I'd be very curious as to what you thought of it. I loved The Bloody Chamber and found it the most accessible of the works by Carter that I've read. But I did also love Fire and Hemlock. You have to be prepared for mad, screwy endings where you're not sure at first what happened, but other than that. DWJ was a very accessible and compellingly readable author, and it is sad that she's gone.

Liz F

I hadn't realised that Diana WynneJones had passed away - I will always be grateful to her for her Chrestomanci stories which encouraged my eldest son to keep reading when the books he was offered at school bored him witless!
I also have Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell sitting on the shelf but as yet I haven't attempted it but I did read The Bloody Chamber last year and found it interesting although if I'm honest I can't say that it's one I would read again in a hurry.
For a good, but short-ish fantasy novel how about Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr? It is classed as YA but both junior daughter who is 17 and I both enjoyed it.


The only one of the books on your list that I've read is Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell, which I read and loved back in July 2005. I found it so absorbing that the length wasn't an issue - it was the kind of book where I was happy that it kept going! For a shorter set of books (they're kids/YA) check out Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer - that book and its two sequels are set in a similar time period to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and have a very similar feel (though actually, Sorcery & Cecelia came first, so I should perhaps be saying Jonathan Strange has a similar feel to it!).

Also, I second (fourth?) the recommendation of Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones!

Old English Rose

'Quicksilver' is a really good book, but definitely daunting. It actually comprises three books and I would recommend reading them individually with a short break in between to recover and stop it getting too overwhelming. Good luck!


I find doorstopper books a mental challenge and have to choose them carefully--a byproduct of an internet society, I wonder? But if I do choose carefully (like last year's Bleak House), I find the longer books to be rewarding on many levels. But I'm with you--reading should be pleasurable and there's no sense stressing out about it. It's good you have so much to choose from!


I've got all three books from Neal Stephensons' Baroque Cycle. I tried to read the first one years ago but it wasn't the right time for me what with heaps of studying to do. I'm also a huge fan of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, although it did take me about 100 pages to get into the story. Then I fell in love with it:) Enjoy!


Such good books to consider reading! I have Jonathan Strange on my shelf as well as several of the other books you mention. My husband read and liked Jonathan Strange right when it came out. I like to take my time ;)


I have had Jonathan Strange forever. A couple years ago I started it and got rather far into it, but for a reason I can't remember I had to put it aside and I have never gotten back to it! For shame... I was really enjoying it!


Caroline--That is a really interesting field of study--I bet you do have a lot of reading material on the subject! I think fairy tales are really interesting and very important in literature (since they are reused so often), but I don't read them nearly enough! I will have to check out Daughters of Copper Mountain now--I've not heard of that one.
Kristen--I think you have to be in the right mood for Angela Carter! I liked her other book of short stories that was similar to this. It would be interesting to read the original and the Carter version side by side. I'm still not sure which book I'll read but I have lots of good books to choose from.
Amanda--I think I tend to be overawed by the size of a book sometimes and then they end up being hard to put down! I think I am likely to pick up Jonathan Strange right now rather than Quicksilver---will save that one for later.
Annie--My library had a few books by her--the only one suggested was Fire and Hemlock which sounds really good, so I brought it home with me today!
Litlove--Glad to hear I've picked the best place to start with Angela Carter. I'm seriously thinking of reading (or attempting) the Susanna Clarke book, though. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm very tempted to try DWJ now that so many people have mentioned how good she is--and my library had one of the books suggested, so I have lots to choose from!
Liz--I wonder how I ever missed DWJ? I guess I've never been much of a fantasy story reader, but there is nothing like the present to try her. Wicked Lovely sounds really good, so I've added it to my wishlist. I might attempt Jonathan Strange since I'm starting to feel a little left out here! Will keep Bloody Chamber nearby but I'm not sure I'm in the right mood for it right now.
Heather--It's good to hear that about Jonathan Strange--I was hoping someone would tell me that! I like all the footnotes--it looks like such an interesting read. One of the last go rounds of the Once Upon a Time challenge someone else suggested the Patricia Wrede book--I think my public library owns both. They sounded good before and are both still on my ever-growing reading list! But I did check out Fire and Hemlock--it seems to be universally liked!
Old English Rose--I very much like the sound of Quicksilver--it has all sorts of elements to it that fascinate me, only I'm a little worried I might feel overwhelmed by it at the moment. That seems like a great vacation read--when I would have lots of uninterrupted reading time!
Kathy--I still have Bleak House sitting by my bed from a couple of years ago. I loved the miniseries and enjoyed what I read, but I just lost the thread somewhere in the first part--I think I hit a slow spot. I do intend to go back to it someday. I've not done well lately with really long books (though I guess I did manage Anna K last year), so I'm trying to be cautious about my choice--I don't want to start something I'll just set aside! You are right, though, long books can be very rewarding!
Sakura--It seems those Stephenson books are something of an undertaking and it's best to do so when you have time to devote to them! I do love the sound of them, though. I am contemplating attempting Jonathan Strange and maybe something really short--something to fall back on! :)
Stefanie--I am excited about this--it's fun thinking about what to read. I hope I don't just caught up in the choosing and actually follow through! :) The Clarke book is seriously tempting me--it seems everyone who read it liked it!
Kailana--That happens to me all the time! I want to read it, but I do worry I won't stick it out. I suppose there is nothing wrong with trying at least? :)


I loved, loved, loved Djinn in Nightingale's Eye and A Fine and Private Place. Seriously, loved. I also loved JS & Mr. N, and I'm thinking about doing a reread. Such a wonderful book!

Dorothy W.

I'm tempted by the Jonathan Strange book as well. Hobgoblin has a copy, and he really loved the book. I've heard such wonderful things about it. But it's so long! I read Quicksilver a while back, and I didn't really love it. I struggled with it a bit. But don't let that turn you away from it!


So glad to see you are joining this one! I told myself no challenges this year except for Carl's :)

This is too funny but I also bought the Jonathan Strange book and it's been on my shelves forever. I just can't seem to get into chunksters lately. Anyway have fun with your readalong :)


Eva--So I am probably safe with just about any of the books I choose from my stack! :) I think I might try the Clarke, but will have those shorter books to fall back on just in case. Really long books lately have been overwhelming me a little, so we'll see how it goes. I Want to read it, though!
Dorothy--I love the sound of Quicksilver, but I think it might be a little bit too much to take on at the moment--not sure. I still do want to read it. The Clarke sounds like it might be more manageable, though and everyone seems to have loved it. I feel a little left out having not read it!
Iliana--I can't resist Carl's challenges either. If I just read one book I will be happy! I love long books, but lately I seem to struggle with them. Maybe the Clarke is the book to turn things around.


Dani--If you want to read a wonderful fairy tale retelling, there is just one recommendation: BEAUTY, by Robin McKinley.


Linda--I will check it out. I am not familiar with that author. I do like retellings. Thanks for the suggestion!


I'm not very good at challenges at the moment, but this challenge inspired me anyway to move two books up on my TBR list: James Hilton Lost Horizon and Stephen Mitchell The Frog Prince will now be read somewhere this year!

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