Your Task: Create My Reading List

I just finished reading author Chuck Wendig’s blog post “25 Reasons Why I Stopped Reading Your Book”Β (there’s also a lot about cake in there) and it’s as delightfully profane as usual. If you haven’t read it, treat yourself to some divine madness.

What he said that really resonated with me (besides creating an urge to eat cake) was that he doesn’t read many novels anymore. Neither do I, and it’s the source of great guilt and gnashing of authorial teeth. “Read in your genre,” my agent says. “Read outside your genre,” fellow authors say. They all seem to keep reading books.

But Wendig’s reasons are much the same as my own: time. I write. I do blogs, which might or might not be considered writing. I try to have a life, although that’s a general Epic Fail these days. I have a 50-plus-hour-a-week day job filled with much angst and more drama than you can find on a soap opera. I read a LOT of nonfiction for research.

And, as Wendig points out, “I know how the sausage is made.” It’s hard to get lost in a book these days. I’m analyzing the opening chapters. I’m archetyping the characters. I’m figuring out why the last chapter bored me to tears, or analyzing what made me laugh. I’m copyediting with an imaginary red pencil, often frustrated over society’s blatant disregard for punctuation.

And that sucks, because I was a reader looooooong before I was a writer.

So I want you to give me a reading list. I will go through the list, one at a time, and I will attempt to read each one. I’ll report back on how I did.

I should note that my reports will NOT be book reviews, although if a book can hold my attention past thirty or forty pages, I consider it a stellar read. So I guess in a way they will be book reviews, only from the viewpoint of an author. Any book. Any genre.

Now, I’ll turn it over to you, dear readers. Tell me what to read. I’ll read the books in the order the comment is left. I will re-read books I’ve read prior to my authorial pursuits, so don’t worry about finding things I might not have read. If you are mean to me and put “Moby Dick” in there, by God, I’ll read it just to spite you. LOL.

And I’ll give away a $5 Amazon GC (or Book Depository equivalent) to a commenter just for playing along.




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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

60 thoughts on “Your Task: Create My Reading List

  1. Soo many recommendations I could make!

    I would go with Kim Harrison “Dead Witch Walking”. That introduced me to urban fantasy and I was hooked.

  2. Would highly recommend “Owl and the Japanese Circus” by Kristi Charish. Note: “Dead Witch Walking” was also my introduction to Urban Fantasy, A big thanks to Kim Harrison [Dawn Cook].

    • Another new book/author for me!

      I actually didn’t read any of the Rachel Morgan books until after RIVER ROAD was written and someone in my local writing group said my work reminded her of Kim Harrison’s. So I went out and found a copy of “Dead Witch Walking.” Now, of course, I only WISH I could write like Kim Harrison πŸ™‚

  3. The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride by Kristen Painter because you need some light reading.

      • I agree that the Kristin Painter books are fun. For a laugh you might also try Molly Harper’s Jane Jameson series and G.A. Aiken’s Dragon shifter series.

  4. I am suggesting two and you can decide. Either First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones or Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. Will you let us know if you have read the book previously?

    It would be beyond difficult for you to become immersed into the story, to be entertained. You have too much happening in your personal life plus as an author, you would understandably get hung up on things a reader might not.

    Best wishes! Patiently waiting for November!! πŸ™‚

    • Two good suggestions by authors I like personally so I’ll give both a go. And yes, I’ll always say whether I’ve read the books before or not. I haven’t read either of these. I honestly don’t remember the last book I read for pleasure. That’s pretty sad.

    • I second the Darynda Jones Charley Davidson series. Laugh out loud funny, with the (literally!) hottest hero on record.

  5. I just finished Before The Fall, by Noah Hawley. I think it will be in my top 10 for the year. It isn’t fantasy, I hope you aren’t limiting your list to one genre. I don’t remember seeing anything about genre.
    Also, Maestra by L S Hilton was good. A VERY amoral heroine, but a good read (very steamy in spots).

  6. I am going to recommend The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry, which is one of the most original novels I’ve read so far this year. Good luck getting your writing mojo back!

    • Oh, now that’s intriguing! New book and author and original :-). My writing mojo is okay but my reading mojo is seriously out of whack. Well, okay, there was the month I spent binge-watching “The Deadliest Catch.” We won’t talk about that.!

  7. Here is an old British author that can be a lot of fun. P.G. Wodehouse (Jeeves and Wooster is his most popular) but any of his books are very funny.

  8. a little hard things to do….hum tonya kappes a charming cure or demon hunting in dixie ( though you must have read it but you made me discover lexi george and i love her since then)

    • I do need to re-read Lexi’s first book, and the first Kate Daniels. And, Liz, I have not read any of Nalini Singh’s books so that’s definitely a series I should try. I’m amassing quite a reading list!

  9. Skin Game by Jim Butcher. I know you’ve read it before, but the rebirth of the Sword of Light is so uplifting to the soul, it’s better than going to church for me.

    • Actually, I’m ashamed to admit I have not read SKIN GAME or COLD DAYS, and that’s my favorite series. *hangs head* This is the series that convinced me to try my hand at writing urban fantasy–this and Simon R Green’s “Nightside” series, which is like Dresden on crack. πŸ™‚

      • You must read Skin Game. Cold Days first, of course. One word. Butters! I have read this book so many times I could almost recite certain passages. If you want to love reading again, Harry is your man!

  10. If you are in mood for a laugh or to lighten your day, I recommend Molly Harper’s Jane Jamison series or G.A.Aiken’s Dragon shifter series. A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet is a new fantasy book I really enjoyed. For Urban Fantasy, the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and the Psy-Changling and Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. Also the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter.

  11. Radiance by Grace Draven it’s a fantasy or you could try Class 5 series by Michelle Diener. I loved both authors.

    • Ah…I wondered if Harry would make an appearance. I adore the HP series but have resisted this one so far because I don’t like to read plays and wonder if she really had more to add to the story or just wanted to make more money. But I will do my duty and add it to my list!

      • I’ve read it and I think that Rowling may have come up with the story idea but I don’t think she wrote the play.

  12. I’m on a re-read kick at the moment. I have just finished Wilbur Smith’s Ancient Egypt series.

  13. The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook or Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster for some steampunk fantasy.

    • Steampunk! I have read a few steampunks (although not these two) and they fascinate me because I can’t imagine writing them. Most genres, I can imagine myself being able to write, but not steampunk. My brain doesn’t turn that way. So they’re interesting. Good choices!

  14. I seconded the rec of Radiance, but in addition, I’d like to recommend Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. It’s contemporary southern fiction with a whiff of magic and it leaves you with a smile on your face. If you’ve read it, a book that I just read last month that had a similar feel was The Wedding Bees by Sarah-Kate Lynch.

      • Also the Southern Witch series by Kimberley Frost. First book is Would Be Witch. Very funny, two hot males competing for heroine’s attention, and the ghost of a great-aunt who was a 1920’s flapper dropping in at the worst times.

  15. Even though I have enjoyed many of the books suggested by your readers, I would like to add A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness to the reading list. It is the first volume in her All Souls Trilogy and is a fascinating book. The main characters Diana Bishop (witch) and Matthew Clairmont (vampire) are extremely well written and the plot is intriguing.

  16. I really enjoyed Jackaby by William Ritter and the second book, Beastly Bones as well.

  17. Hmm, any genre? I don’t think you’re much of a YA fan, but I’d have to recommend The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (a sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic fairytale retelling with glamour and cyborgs) and Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas ( fantasy with assassins and magic). Those two are my current favourite series- awesome characters & the worlds got me hooked!

    • I really liked YA for a while, until about the 30th consecutive “girl wakes up and finds she has supernatural powers and must save the world” and the “there’s a cute new boy in school and even though he gives off creepy vibes I can save him and never mind that he has fangs” story. LOL. But it’s been at least three or four years since I read one, so I’ll give these a try πŸ™‚

      • Hahaha sadly that is so true, I really got sick of the supernatural genre for a while. Good news though, no fangs in either of the books I recommended!

  18. I second all the Nalini Singg suggestions! She only has 2 series but they’re both AMAZING. They’re so different but the heart in both books is so addictive. πŸ˜‰

    You’re not a fan of YA right? I’m on a YA reread streak currently, and I’d definitely rec Scarlet by AC Gaughen, first book in her trilogy retelling Robin Hood and his band (with a super romantic subplot!!), and the River of Time series by Lisa Tawn Bergren if you’re open to venturing into YA. It’s a time travel romance, a liiiiittle like the Outlander series but the heroines know how to wield a sword and bow and arrow. Which is always a plus. πŸ˜‰

    • I’m sorry, forgot bout her latest contemporary series, Nalini has 3 series (all amazing but I still prefer her PNR/UF series).

  19. Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake. This was one of the first books I had picked up after a long break in reading! It got me back into reading and it was also my first Urban Fantasy! I love this series!