Sun
Aug 29 2010 10:05am

OK, where do I start with that? W

The end of the alphabet is bearing down on us fast, as we look along my bookshelves deciding where to start with different writers. We have reached the last really big letter, W.

These are my personal recommendations, based literally on what’s on my actual physical bookshelves. There are therefore always a lot of things excluded that I don’t read, don’t have opinions on or plain forgot—please add them for me, along with your suggestions for where to start with them.

W starts with Helen Waddell, a scholar of medieval literature, particularly with her historical novel Peter Abelard (1946). It’s the story of Abelard and Heloise, and I’m very fond of it.

Howard Waldrop is one of the greatest writers of crazy short stories ever. Start with the collection Things Will Never Be the Same or if you can find it the novel Them Bones (post).

Jill Paton Walsh has written some excellent children’s books, but if you are grown up, start with Knowledge of Angels (post).

My own books come next on my bookshelf, but if you are reading this you have already started to read me with the blog posts. I will leave it to others to recommend where to start with my fiction. I do have a new one out in January.

Walter Wangerin’s The Book of the Dun Cow is a fantasy unlike everything else. It’s an animal fable, and it’s very odd, but well worth your time. I haven’t much liked anything else of his.

Keith Waterhouse was a British mainstream writer who was immensely popular for a while and seems to have faded from popular consciousness. His best known book is Billy Liar, first person from the point of view of a compulsive liar who makes his life unnecessarily complicated. I’m very fond of the sweet sad Maggie Muggins, about a woman going around all the places she has lived in London collecting mail that might have been sent there for her, and rethinking life and death.

Lawrence Watt Evans—if you like light fantasy start with The Misenchanted Sword (post) or if you’d enjoy Dumas with dragons, then start with Dragon Weather. Watt Evans is great at worldbuilding, he’s good at being amusing, and he’s the only writer I’ve ever actually seen say “Why that one?” when someone said they’d bought one of his books.

I go through phases of liking Evelyn Waugh. I’ve bought all his books twice because I got rid of them the first time. His best book is definitely Brideshead Revisited, but really you can start almost anywhere with the others.

David Weber—I’d say start with Honor Harrington series with book 2, The Honor of the Queen. You don’t need to have read the first one and it’s a much better introduction. If you prefer your naval SF to have water instead of spaceships, then start with Off Armageddon Reef (post).

Jean Webster wrote the charming but odd YA Daddy Long Legs (1912). I don’t know if people read books like this these days.

H.G. Wells is one of the fathers of science fiction, so it’s odd that I started reading him with his mainstream novels. It’s quite amazing how many classic SF themes he was the first to write. I’d suggest starting with The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, conveniently packaged together.

Donald Westlake was a wonderful American mystery writer, and if you’ve never read him you should start with the comic caper novel What’s the Worst That Could Happen. I describe them in a post on Get Real, which is the last in the series.

Edward Whittimore wrote odd semi-fantastical history about the Middle East. Start with Sinai Tapestry—and do start with it. They’re quirky and hard to describe but completely brilliant and utterly original.

Kate Wilhelm has written a number of crime novels and quite a bit of SF. Start with the Hugo-winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang.

It’s hard to say where to start with Walter Jon Williams because he has written so many different things. You could try last year’s This is Not a Game (post), a near future cutting-edge SF novel. Or you could try the Dread Empire’s Fall (post) military space opera series. Or really, depending what SF subgenre you like, he’s probably written something in it.

Connie Willis writes science fiction that tends to have a complex relationship with history. Start with To Say Nothing of the Dog (post) or Domesday Book (post). Do not read Blackout until the other half comes out in November.

Terri Windling is one of the best fantasy anthologists in the genre. But start with her wonderful novel The Wood Wife (post).

Jack Womack is one of the most brilliant and one of the most underrated SF writers ever. Start with Random Acts of Senseless Violence (post).

Ira Wood is Marge Piercy’s husband. I own his novel The Kitchen Man because I really like Piercy. It’s odd to read though, from a perspective of having read a lot of Piercy, because they both write variations of themes of their lives, and so having this in a different key is weird.

Virginia Woolf—definitely start with A Room of One’s Own. I have never much warmed to her fiction, nor do I think much of her as a cultural icon, but this is essential for any woman or any writer.

Patricia Wrede has written a lot of excellent fantasy, but start with Sorcery and Cecelia (post).

John Wyndham—start with The Chrysalids (Rebirth) (post).


Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published eight novels, most recently Half a Crown and Lifelode, and two poetry collections. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

77 comments
David Levinson
1. DemetriosX
W is surprisingly full. Lots of agreement with Jo, so far.

Howard Waldrop: I don't know if the collection Jo mentioned contains "Flying Saucer Rock and Roll", but that is probably my favorite short story by him. It's a good place to start.

Lew Wallace: Yes, Ben Hur is actually on my shelves. It's not bad, surprisingly.

Evangeline Walton: She is probably best known for her four volume retelling of the Welsh Mabinogion cycle. Start with Prince of Annwn.

Donald and Howard Wandrei: Brothers who wrote a lot of early horror and weird. You're most likely to find their stuff in collections, especially Cthulhu-related stuff.

Lawrence Watt-Evans: I agree with The Misenchanted Sword, but if you prefer science-fiction or want something shorter, look for a collection that includes "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hamburgers".

Stanley G. Weinbaum: A very promising early SF writer who died at a very young age. He wrote some novels, but his short work is better. Look for any collection that has "A Martian Odyssey" in it.

Manly Wade Wellman: Lots of different starting places. He wrote in many genres, but is probably best known for his weird fiction. Of that, his Silver John tales are probably the best. Start either with The Old Gods Waken or a collection of the Silver John short stories (most recently collected in
Owls Hoot in Daytime and Other Omens.

Leslie What: I only know her short stories, but they are excellent.

Jack Whyte: He has written a long Arthurian cycle set in a realistic post-Roman Britain, starting with the childhood of Merlin. The first book is The Skystone.

Oscar Wilde: A broad range of stuff. My favorite would be The Portrait of Dorian Grey.

Paul O. Williams: He wrote a series of post-apocalyptic books in the 80s that weren't bad. The first one is The Breaking of Northwall.

Tad Williams: Tailchaser's Song is Watership Down with cats and may have started the "my cat ran away so I will invent adventures for him" genre. I would start with Caliban's Hour.

Jack Williamson: He should be mentioned, but I don't really know where in his enormous catalog you should start.

Gene Wolfe: If you get the wrong thing, you could be put off of his stuff for life. If you like, say, M. John Harrison's Viroconium books, then start with The Shadow of the Torturer. I would start with Soldier of the Mist.

Donald A. Wollheim: He wrote lots of short stories before he became a publisher. Some were pretty good.

Patricia Wrede: I would start with Dealing with Dragons. The series is great fun.

William F. Wu: Another one who wrote some really good short fiction back in the 80s. Find a collection with "On the Shadow of a Phsphor Screen". His Hong stories are also very good.
Dietes
2. Dietes
Wow, no Gene Wolfe? Start with "Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book of the New Sun" Best sci-fi novel ever.
I also like Tad Williams' "Memeory, Sorrow, and Thorn," a massive and egrossongepic fantasy.
Finally, don't forget David Wingrove's wonderful Chung Kuo series- start with "The Middle Kingdom."
Steve Oerkfitz
3. Steve Oerkfitz
Robert Charles Wilson is one of my favorite contemporary SF writers. I would start with The Chronoliths or Darwinia but he has yet to write bad book.
John Wyndham-I recently reread several of his books.The Day of the Triffids and ReBirth both held up well. Out of the Deeps less so.
Gene Wolfe-Start with The Best of Gene Wolfe. Then The Book of the New Sun novels.
Howard Waldrop-Can't really go wrong anywhere. But The Ugly Chickens is a must read.
Manly Wade Wellman-Who Fears the Devil
Robert Wilson-a British thriller writer-A Small Death in Lisbon is probably is best book.
Dietes
4. James Davis Nicoll
There was a William Jon Watkins who I discovered because I didn't look closely enough and thought he was the other WJW. I only picked up his two Legrange League books about which I recall nothing.

Hugh Walters wrote a number of books featuring Chris Godfrey of UNEXA. The first one is Blastoff at Woomera. There's a site for him here:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/gaudeamus/walters/index.html

Stanley G. Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey", which can be found here:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/23731

The late James White wrote a long running series about Sector General, a hospital that catered to any and all patients, including at least one the size of a continent. The first book in the series is Sector General and his homepage is here:
http://www.sectorgeneral.com/
Samantha Brandt
5. Talia
I too loved Williams' 'Memory Sorry and Thorn' series, but if high fantasy isn't your cup of tea, I'd recommend his 'Otherlands' series - sci-fi with a fantasy angle (adventuring in an expansive virtual world).

Margaret Weis: The Dragonlance Chronicles are likeable, but pretty simplistic and likely better for younger readers. Instead, let me recommend her 'Death Gate Cycle,' set in a completely original universe. Pretty interesting world.
Dietes
6. beket
I just read Sorcery and Cecilia, and I second the recommendation; however, it took me several chapters to get into it.

The more I learn about HG Wells, the more I dislike him, and sadly, it's impacting how I read his works now. While I appreciate The Time Machine as a classic, I find much of it ridiculous with me asking "why doesn't he just..." too often. The work I liked most by Wells is The Island of Moreau. But it is disturbing.

A Room of Ones Own is the best place to start with Virginia Woolf. It's an essay on what it takes to be a writer, specifically a female writer. I love her novel Mrs Dalloway, but it is not everyone's cup of tea, and some people hate it. It can be difficult, but once you get used to the style, it works. Orlando is sort of a fantasy, the story of an Elizabethean courtier who lives to the "present" but part way through his life he wakes up as a woman. I didn't like it, and many of the interesting ideas in it can be found in A Room of Ones Own, so just read that instead.
TW Grace
7. TWGrace
TH White - Sword and the Stone (or rather The Once and Future King)
Dietes
8. James Davis Nicoll
Jack Williamson: He should be mentioned, but I don't really know where in his enormous catalog you should start.

People who like urban fantasy could start with Darker Than You Think, an Unknown-style novel.

For SF in the old, scenery-chewing pulp style, try his Legion of Space.

He was one of the first SF authors to embrace the idea of anti-matter, which he called contraterrene matter. Look for the omnibus Seetee Ship/Seetee Shock.

He and Fred Pohl wrote eight novels together. The Starchild Trilogy has a wacky Fred Hoylesque charm to it (that is, Sir Fred, the cosmologist clinging to constant creation, charm, not Sir Fred, the guy who thought nothing of dumping a page of equations into a novel if the characters were the sort of people who were comfortable with equations as part of a conversation, charm), while Farthest Star, set in a galaxy where the standard method of travel is a combination FTL radio/Xerox Machine and where the not particularly unified galaxy is faced with an incoming artificial object the size of a solar system, zooming along at 1/6th the speed of light. As a side effect of how travel worked, death was no guarentee another version of the same character would not show up again; in particular the original Ben Pertin was never at risk and saw nothing wrong with sending copy after copy off to almost certain doom.


I didn't care so much for the sequel or for their Undersea Triology
Dietes
9. Kvon
Good lord, lots of Ws on my shelf.

Katie Waitman's first novel was The Merro Tree, which had fantastical alien ideas of art.

Jo Walton, start with Tooth and Claw, a draconic fantasy of manners. But don't expect that it will set the style for the rest of her novels.

Peter Watts' Blindsight was a Hugo nominee, a scary first contact novel that explores the idea behind consciousness.

Martha Wells has done some excellent fantasy, I'd start with Death of the Necromancer which has assassins and thieves running about in a gaslight city.

Michelle West writes thick intertwined fantasy series, I'd start with Hunter's Oath with two brothers setting out to slay the Dark Lord.

Scott Westerfeld is found in the YA section, his book Peeps is an atypical vampire story which has all sorts of cool stuff on parasites.

Charles Williams, the least known of the Inklings, is more Christian magical realism than Tolkein or Lewis. I think you can start anywhere, but I'll name The Greater Trumps. Beware, his work has some maggots of sexism and racism.

And I would second Talking to Dragons for the Patricia Wrede recommendation.
Dietes
10. Janice in GA
Walter Wangerin's books (The Book of the Dun Cow, The Book of Sorrows) are beast fables with a lot of Christian symbolism. If you like that sort of thing, they've very good, though rather sad.

I think I wept through a good bit of the second book. I need to re-read them.
Tex Anne
11. TexAnne
Jean Webster, yes! If you like I Capture the Castle, you'll like Webster. The Astaire-Caron movie of Daddy-Long-Legs is pretty faithful to the book. The sequel, Dear Enemy, is here:
http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/238
Chad Orzel
12. orzelc
The problem with recommending that people start Westlake with What's the Worst That Can Happen? is that it's the absolute pinnacle of the Dortmunder series. It doesn't get any better than that, though most of the other books are very, very good.

Baby, Would I Lie? is also excellent, and striking for how well Westlake, who I strongly associate with New York City, manages to write a funny book about Branson, Missouri without it being just a "Look at the yokels!" joke.

I would add my recommendation to the list of people plugging Manley Wade Wellman's Silver John books and stories. They're not really like anything else, but they're excellent at what they are. He wrote tons of other stuff, none of which I have ever seen in an affordable form-- one of the smaller presses that usually has a table at Boskone did a fancy leather-bound edition of his collected stories, but I'm not willing to shell out that kind of money for something I'm not sure I'll like.

Walter Jon williams mostly leaves me cold, save for his "divertimenti" books about the amusing adventures of Drake Maijstral, Allowed Burglar, stealing things from high society in an alien empire.

Robert Charles Wilson's Spin is spectacular-- high-concept SF grounded in great characters. I've liked everything I've read by him.

Scott Westerfeld's Peeps is terrific, and has lots of cool stuff about the creepy biology of parasites. I'm also fond of So Yesterday, which is the first place I ran into the phrase "missing black woman formation."

Not mentioned yet: David Foster Wallace, whose Infinite Jest is spectacular, but intimidating. Start with his non-fiction, particularly the title essay in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, or pretty much anything from Consider the Lobster.

Irvine Welsh is best known for Trainspotting, which is probably the place to start. It's all pretty much like that.

I'm surprised not to see PG Wodehouse listed, but I haven't the foggiest idea where to suggest starting. Something with "Jeeves" in the title.
Nick Rogers
13. BookGoblin
I would start Tad Williams with "Green Angel Tower" as I couldn't finish "Tailchaser's Song" for reasons I can't really explain.

Gene Wolfe's "The Wizard Knight" is more accessible in my mind than his more famous series work, and still gives a good feel for his writing.

Robert Charles Wilson has a novel titled "Spin" that was the first book I ever bought digitally, and remains a mind bender years later.

And finally, having nothing to do with her posting of this series, Jo Walton's novel "Farthing" is one of my favorite books ever written.
Liza .
14. aedifica
For Donald Westlake, Bank Shot and Why Me are also good places to start; the latter is full of hijinks with now-outdated phone technology, which (for me) makes it extra fun in a nostalgic kind of way.

I strongly second the recommendation of T.H. White's The Once and Future King.

Leonard Wibberly's The Mouse That Roared is good.

I would start Jo's own books with The King's Peace if you're a fan of Arthuriana (with the caveat that strictly speaking, it isn't actually Arthuriana itself), Farthing if you like alternate history, and Tooth and Claw if you like dragons and/or comedies of manners.
Andrew Barton
15. MadLogician
Liz Williams. I started with her debut 'The Ghost Sister'.

I'd like to be able to start her 'Detective Inspector Chen' series with the first one, Snake Agent, but I haven't been able to get hold of it. That series got caught up in the Night Shade Books mess.
Dietes
16. legionseagle
Actually, I'd seriously suggest starting T.H.White with Mistress Masham's Repose, a charming children's fantasy with a distinct feel of E.Nesbit and Mary Norton, where the original Lilliputians are installed on an ornamental lake in the grounds of a great house not wholly dissimilar from a tumbledown Blenheim Palace.
Christopher Key
17. Artanian
For Weist I'd suggest starting with the Death Gate Cycle as well, with the proviso that it has one of the worst endings of any series ever, perhaps only exceeded by Stephen King's Dark Tower books. But that last thirty pages really doesn't diminish the enjoyment of the rest of the seven books.

For Robert Anton Wilson one has to read the Illuminatus! Trilogy, even though it is a sixties/seventies timepiece.

K.D. Wentworth, the only thing I've read was the Hrrin series, starting with Black on Black, but that was enjoyable enough.

Michael Z. Williamson - if you're a hard right-wing libertarian, I'd suggest starting with Freehold (available as a free download in the Baen free library). If the idea of the UN as bad guys, with nudist, gunslinging anarcho-libertarians as the good guys bugs you, then I'd suggest starting with 'Better to Beg Forgiveness'. The UN is still the bad guys in that one, but the politics aren't quite as much in your face.
Michael Burke
18. Ludon
While James White has been mentioned already, I'd like to add my thoughts. James White is one of my favorate Science Fiction authors. His main characters are usually healers or peace-keepers and his stories often have an interesting twist. What kind of a twist? Well, in his story Second Ending he combined the themes of Last Man On Earth and The End Of The Earth yet was able to give it an upbeat ending.

I would suggest starting with his short stories which can be found in the volumes Aliens Among Us, Monsters And Medics, Deadly Litter and Futures Past. The short story Custom Fitting in the collection Stellar #2 from Ballantine would also be a good place to start. If you prefer longer non-series works then dive into The Silent Stars Go By.

@ #4 James Davis Nicoll
There was a William Jon Watkins who I discovered because I didn't look
closely enough and thought he was the other WJW. I only picked up his
two Legrange League books about which I recall nothing.

Was one of those titles Going To See The End Of The Sky? An odd book, and so far the only one from him that I've read.
Declan Ryan
19. decco999
I'll add my support for two "W's" mentioned already:

James White's Sector General series, starting with Hospital Station, written between the early 1960's and the late 1990's. The series is an easy read, but unsurpassed with its creation of and depth to its featured alien species. Both James White and Alan Dean Foster are masters in this regard - in my opinion. .......... and I fully concur with Ludon@18 above.

Walter Jon Williams is somewhat new to me. For a big galactic romp, start with book-1 of Dread Empire's Fall, The Praxis.
Dietes
20. Susan Loyal
Most of the additions I would have made are already mentioned in comments, except for two:

Liz Williams. If you're starting with the Inspector Chen novels, start at the beginning with Snake Agent. (Chen lives and works in a place called Singapore 3, where the connections with the underworld/afterlife are stronger than in our world, and more permeable. It's delightful.) She has written several novels that are all hard to describe, as she pushes genre boundaries and expectations in many ways. I'd suggest starting with Nine Layers of Sky.

Ysabeau Wilce has a YA alt-history series with a heroine of spirit and many quirky subtitles. If you enjoy whimsy, start with the first:

Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog
Joe Romano
21. Drunes
T.M. Wright, "The Last Vampire, a weird and moody story that might be about vampires, but could also be about--

Who knows? It's one of the oddest tales you'll ever read. A word of caution, though. "The Last Vampire" was the first of Wright's books I read. I've read several more since then and nothing else has come close to capturing a quiet sense of horror.
Dietes
22. James Davis Nicoll
18:
Was one of those titles Going To See The End Of The Sky? An odd book, and so far the only one from him that I've read.

Yes, and the other one in the series was The Centrifugal Rickshaw Dancer. I must have liked it because I did pick up the second one.

He had a respectable number of novels in the 1970s and 1980s but I think he focuses on poetry now; he won a Rhysling in 2002.

(Note to authors: if I say "I didn't read that" or "I read it but I don't remember the details" all that means is either I didn't happen to see it or once again my unreliable memory has let me down).

On an unrelated note, has anyone else got symbols on the second half of the recaptcha that not only are not actually words but aren't recognizable letters or numbers either? I feel like I am getting recaptchas from Abdul Alhazred's blog.
Dietes
23. James C. Wallace II
Since you've finally made it to the "W's", I would recommend and excellent quthor of Oz fantasy, James C. Wallace II; author of the critically-acclaimed Magician of Oz Trilogy.
Volume One: Magician fo Oz and Volume Two: Shadow Demon of Oz are now out and available for your reading pleasure.
And yes, if this seems like shameless self-promotion... it is! I've been bugging Tor.com for some time to look at my work.
Remember, not all the world is sci-fi and adultified fantasy. There is a Land of Oz out there that still commands attention and a look at what is currently being written.

Par Ardua Ad Alta!
Volume Three: Family of Oz is due out in early 2011 and looks to be an excellent conclusion to this outstanding story of Oz.
David Levinson
24. DemetriosX
orzelc@12: If you like the Silver John stuff, then you will probably also like the John Thunstone books and the Ruben Manco books (Manco makes an appearance in one of the John books). They all cover similar territory, just not with an Appalachian dialect. Wellman's SF is probably most comparable to Piper, though smaller in scope.

And let me add my voice to those recommending James White. I had just about forgotten him or maybe merged him in my head with Murray Leinster. But the Sector General stories may be among the very best medical SF.
Dietes
25. James Davis Nicoll
Tor has a nice selection of Sector General omnibuses:

http://us.macmillan.com/series/SectorGeneral

Would anyone know if NESFA's The White Papers is still in print?
Kerry Dustin
26. rocalisa
I think they're out of print now, but I remember really enjoying M. K. Wren's Phoenix Legacy trilogy: Sword of the Lamb, Shadow of the Swan and House of the Wolf.

Another W is Janny Wurts. I'm currently reading her Wars of Light and Shadow series which starts with The Curse of the Mistrwraith. If you want a stand alone, try To Ride Hell's Chasm.
Beth Friedman
27. carbonel
Thanks for the mention of Daddy Long-Legs; I didn't know it was available on Gutenberg, and I've been meaning to read it one of these days, based on Pat Wrede's recommendation (and now yours as well).

I can't really recommend Dennis Wheatley's books (given their jingoistic, racist, and sexist nature), but I have four feet or so of them, and I collected them assiduously on my first trip to England in 1979. The Devil Rides Out is where I started, and that's as good a place as any.

All Clear, the sequel to Connie Willis's Blackout, is due out in mid-October (not November), but I second the recommendation not to read the first half alone, having done so myself. One can also start with Bellwether, which is short, stands alone, and is representative of both her strengths and faults.
Dietes
28. Jeff R.
Out of Robert Anton Wilson's fiction, Masks of the Illuminati is probably the best complete work. (The first two books of The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles were excellent, but the third was disappointing and the last two were never written. The rest of his fiction has Not Aged Well.)
Dietes
29. MarciaJ
Sarah Waters; anything by Sarah Waters. For the paranormal, Affinity (one in her Victorian trilogy), and The Little Stranger (one in her post-WWII series, which I believe she is continuing with her next book).

Cream of the crop in my opinion is Fingersmith; an absolutely wonderful homage and intentional pastiche of the sensational novels of the Victorian period as epitomized by Dickens and Collins. Talk about making something old seem new again! Ms. Waters tells wonderfully engaging tales, no matter what the time period, and in beautifully written prose, particularly with her Victorian works. Check her out.
Alex Brown
30. AlexBrown
Evelyn Waugh: Personally I loved The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold the best (it's about a grumpy old man - a fictionalized version of himself - who is stalked by
a bunch of sex-addled jazz kids while on a cruise - or are they? Duh duh duuuuh!), but Vile Bodies comes a close second. You could start with either and be totally happy.

P.G. Wodehouse: Like Waugh, he's not really genre, but he's just so fraking awesome that if you've gone your entire life without Wodehouse in it your life is incomplete. Anything in his Jeeves and Wooster series is a great place to wet your feet (my personal fave is The Luck of the Bodkins). The AV Club has a great article on where to start with him:
http://www.avclub.com/articles/pg-wodehouse,30148/. Also, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie were AWESOME in their TV show from many moons ago as Jeeves and Wooster.

Oscar Wilde: The obvious (genre) start is The Picture of Dorian Gray, but The Canterville Ghost and his collection of fairy tales are also great nibblets.
Jo Walton
31. bluejo
I agree about the excellence of Sarah Waters, who I've been reading out of the library this last little while.
Dietes
32. seth e.
For Gene Wolfe, I second the recommendation for Soldier in the Mist, especially for people who (like me) bounce off some of his other books. It reminds me more of Lewis' Til We Have Faces than anything else in genre. It has one of my favorite paragraphs about religion in it.

I'd also recommend not moving on to Soldier of Arete. It's a fine book, but the end of Soldier in the Mist is so perfect that just the existence of a sequel is a mistake.

I love P. G. Wodehouse, but the Jeeves and Wooster stories have never been my favorites. If you're looking for a standalone book to try, Money in the Bank is one of my favorites. I also really like Angel Cake, which isn't one of his best ones but has a couple of things going for it. For one thing, it has the longest single comic scene I've ever read--as I recall, it's thirteen chapters long.
Karen Lofstrom
33. DPZora
Yes to M. K. Wren. Gripping plot. One of my comfort reads. Should be re-issued in e.
Todd Johansen
34. Gher06
Robert Charles Wilson writes a lot of good books. Spin is very good, but I think I'd recommend starting with The Chronoliths.
john mullen
35. johntheirishmongol
I would add a couple of recommendations in the W's

For David Weber, an alternate to HH is Oath of Swords, which is a fun fantasy series. I disagree about starting with the 2nd book of Honor Harrington.

I would add another to John Wyndham..Triffids is the best but I rather like Out of the Deeps

One I havent seen mentioned is Herman Wouk, who was one of the major novelists of the 20th century. The Winds of War is an amazing novel. The Caine Mutiny is fabulous.
Rob Munnelly
36. RobMRobM
I will pile on with Robert Charles Wilson and note that Jo has separately reviewed Spin and several other of his works on this site. Spin in particular swept all the SF awards when it came out and is very good.
Still not sure what Jo is doing including this Walton lady. What has she done for us lately?
Rob
Dietes
37. (still) Steve Morrison
Karl Edward Wagner:


His Kane cycle has been described as a darker version of Conan. Start with the novel Bloodstone or, if you prefer a story collection, Night Winds.
Dietes
38. Jeff Dougan
James M. Ward wrote a neat series (of only 2 books, unfortunately) about Halcyon Blythe, a fantastic (as in fantasy-tic) take on Horatio Hornblower. I'm terribly disappointed that he didn't get to continue the series. The first is Midshipwizard Halcyon Blythe; the other is Dragonfrigatewizard H.B.
Dietes
39. vcmw
I really enjoyed Elizabeth Willey's three books (I think she only ever wrote three): The Well-Favored Man, A Sorcerer and a Gentleman, and The Price of Blood and Honor.
I suppose you start with the first, The Well-Favored Man. There is nothing to say, however, that liking the first will mean you like the 2nd and 3rd or vice versa. Though they are all in the same world they are very different in construction, narration, tone and time period. I like all three but more people seem to like the first than the other two. The first one is sort of fantasy with wine and dragons and conversations and complicated family dynamics. The other two are fantasy with the above but added weird political wars and extra emotional grimness. The first one has a fairly light tone.
Soon Lee
40. SoonLee
Walter Jon Williams' output is extremely diverse so he's bound to have written something in your favourite subgenre. I'm currently recommending "Implied Spaces" which has a Zelazny-esque quality to it.

Connie Willis: Definitely "To say nothing of the dog".

Liz Williams: writes books that can be hard to categorise. I'm a fan of her Detective Inspector Chen stories, set in Singapore 3 (in the future, cities are franchised) where heaven & hell is real (in the Chinese cosmology sense) & Feng Shui works. Start with the first: "Snake Agent".
walter willis
41. wkwillis
Deleted.
Estara Swanberg
42. Estara
I'm missing Elizabeth E. Wein here - whom you might like if you like Megan Whalen Turner. Sherwood Smith's writing partner, Rachel Manija Brown did a review of her book series based on Arthuriana and the ancient Ethiopian empire.

Telemakos, who shows up in the series in the second book when the action moves to Ethiopia, becomes the main character and has a lot in common with Gen, however he is much younger.

Quote from her review:



" The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom are a pair of excellent quasi-historical novels set in an alternate sixth century Aksum (Ethiopia), about a royal child-spy. I think they would appeal to fans of Megan Whalen Turner for their suspense, excellent characterization, complex politics, fine prose, and extremely high angst quotient.
The child spy in question is Telemakos, the son of the Aksumite Turunesh and the British Medraut. Yes, that Medraut, the one more commonly known as Mordred. That being said, there’s very little else about the books which is in any way Arthurian."




There are five books in the series so far, and Elizabeth Wein has some short stories in various anthologies, for example Firebirds Soaring and The Coyote Road.
Paul Andinach
43. anobium
Cherry Wilder: Start with The Luck of Brin's Five. It's one of those stories where a boy meets a crashlanded alien and he and his family wind up sheltering it and keeping it away from the authorities while it tries to get to a rendezvous point where its friends can rescue it -- only in this case it's the crashlanded alien who's from the distant planet Earth, where the people have ridiculously small eyes and no pouches and fur that only grows in clumps on their heads. It's a charming book, with an interesting alien culture (and some cleverly-worked social and linguistic history).

A small warning: Although the denouement does tie up a lot of plot threads, the book ends before the Earthman actually makes it to his rendezvous. That happens in the sequel, The Nearest Fire.
Dietes
44. MichaelB
For those who might be (should be!) interested in Gene Wolfe's work but are wary of diving into multi-volume novels, there are many other good places to start:
For sf readers, The Fifth Head of Cerberus is a must read by any reckoning, particularly if you are a fan of old pulp SF and/or the "anthroplogical" SF of Ursula Le Guin. It will give one a good idea of where Wolfe is coming from and the kind of things he does with his writing. It is a short collection of three interlinked novellas which demonstrate many of the topos that Wolfe has become known for: unreliable narrators, stories within stories, conflated identities, and science fictional tropes rendered as myth. If you like this, chances are Wolfe is for you. The first of the three novellas is collected in The Best of Gene Wolfe.


For readers who lean toward horror or literary mainstream, the novel Peace is where to begin. Also a short book, illustrating many of the aforementioned tools in Wolfe's kit.


For the Lovecraft fan, An Evil Guest is another outstanding short novel which draws on Lovecraft, but not in a way that simply imitates him. It is set in a bizarre future version of the 1920s or 1930s with flying cars and aliens.


I'd also like to point out that many people may find his short form fiction much more to their taste than his long form fiction. The Best of Gene Wolfe is a fine place to start, although I'm actually of the opinion that most of his best work is later in his career (The Best of . . . is largely a collection of older stories). He's released three collections of short fiction in the past ten years, all of them outstanding: Strange Travelers, Innocents Aboard, and Starwater Strains.


Finally, a pit of pedantry: his "series" works are really multi-volume novels (like The Lord of the Rings), as opposed to being series proper. Reading just the first book is like reading the first so many chapters of a novel and stopping. You don't have the full story. For example, The Knight in no way ends at anything that should be confused as The End and leaves plenty of threads dangling.
Dietes
45. James Davis Nicoll
Charles Willeford, one of the Florida crime writers, and influential on Elmore Leonard. Probably best known for his Hoke Mosley series, of which the first one is Miami Blues.

Funnier than you'd expect but don't trust Hoke's advice.
Heloise Larou
46. Heloise
Jo Walton: Start with Lifelode, because it deals with subjects rarely touched upon in fantasy, because it is does astonishing things with narrative structure, because it does them in such and unobtrusive and well-integrated way that it makes even Steven Brust look clumsy at times, and least but not least because it's such an utterly enjoyable read and in my opinion one of the greatest fantasy novels ever.
Dietes
47. a-j
John Wyndham - one that hasn't been mentioned yet is Chocky, a later one but a good introduction to his theme of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Otherwise, Day of the Triffids and I like The Kraken Wakes (I assume that's Out of the Deeps in the US). I prefer the film of The Midwich Cuckoos (titled Village of the Damned) to the novel I'm afraid. Oh, that's the first b/w one with George Saunders, not the colour re-make.
HG Wells - The War of the Worlds arguably should be read by anyone with an interest in SF as it has to be one of the founding texts of the genre. His short stories are fun too. For his non-SF, I would suggest starting with The History of Mr Polly followed by Tono-Bungay.
Oscar Wilde - The Canterville Ghost is an excellent starting point, that or a good production of The Importance of Being Ernest or the film version with Michael Redgrave and Dame Edith Evans.
PG Wodehouse - I've found different people prefer different of his series. I'm a Jeeves & Wooster man myself and am not so fond of the Blandings stories. Others are the opposite. I would suggest taking pot luck and seeing what grabs you.
Evelyn Waugh -Decline and Fall, sometimes described as the novel every undergraduate wants to write, I would say begin with it then move onto the Sword of Honour trilogy and leave it there, but others rate Brideshead Revisited highly.
Madeline Ferwerda
48. MadelineF
Jo Walton: start with Tooth and Claw, because if you want more creeping horror with your well-sighted interplays of personalities you can then go to Farthing, or if you want instead cozy poly with etc you can go to Lifelode.

Cherry Wilder: agree with anobium that The Luck of Brin's Five is a fine book.

Elizabeth Willey: agree with vcmw on The Well-Favored Man.

Connie Willis: start with the novella "All Seated on the Ground" because it's free. If you can stand the way her wrapups are facile and her main characters are nincompoops (which is more important, saving the world, or not interrupting this powerful bloviating guy? Ooo, toughie) then her way of describing a world is appealing.

Tad Williams: of his stuff I've tried Tailchaser's Song (meh, annoying denigration of neutering cats) and The Dragonbone Chair (went 800 pages, book ended without resolution, book 2 as if). But Child of an Ancient City by him is a great short book; a caravan has to do a Thousand and One Nights thing and tell a story each night or a vampire will get bored with them and kill them all. Well worth reading; does something unusual with the vampire and so it's not the typical annoying oughtta be staked trope.
Dietes
49. OtterB
I enjoyed Daddy Long-legs, which I came to as an adult.

Nobody's yet mentioned Islandia, by Austin Tappan Wright. The main character, Lang, is sent as the American consul to the country of Islandia. It has a somewhat slow pace but if you like reading for the chance to explore all the details of a fascinating new society, go for it.
Dietes
50. David DeLaney
W is large, agreed. Larger than XYZ put together... It also has some repeated last names - Wells, White, Williams, Wilson, etc. It's also getting to the point where it's been a LONG while since the last time I went completely through these, sorting paperbacks in, so some of these authors I just plain don't remember anything about, and shall be reminding myself of stuff with Wikipedia, Amazon, & Google. This... is gonna be long. Some agreement with previous notes, and several that nobody seems to have mentioned.

Ian Wallace (John Wallace Pritchard) wrote what I can only describe as "psychedelic space opera" complete with mentally-powered time travel. The setting starts, I _think_, with _Croyd_. He's also got an interplanetary detective series, which I see I only have half of, starting with _Deathstar Voyage_.

Lawrence Watt-Evans - If you want a Different Take on epic fantasy ... try starting with his The Lure of the Basilisk.

David Weber - If you want to read his fantasy, find his _The War God's Own_. He doesn't write much of it, but I actually like it better than Honor's endless series. (And his new "hiding last survivors of humanity on a distant planet at low tech level so he can write actual naval battles" series starts with _Off Armageddon Reef_.)

Karen Wehrstein wrote two novels in a series most of which has Shirley Meier's name on it (Fifth Millenium) - the series starts with S.M. Stirling's _Snowbrother_, and Wehrstein's contributions start with _Shadow's Son_.

Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman have written a plethora of fantasy series. (Weis by herself, not nearly so much.) The Death Gate cycle starts with _Dragon Wing_; the DragonLance series (which there are by now an almost endless amount of - seriously, it's SCARY) starts with _Dragons of Autumn Twilight_. I also liked their Darksword series, starting with _Forging the Darksword_, and the Rose of the Prophet series, beginning with _The Will of the Wanderer_. I'll be doing some rereading once I finally get down to W in my sorting-in project. (Which has been stuck on the end of O for some time because of moving-other-things-around issues, sigh.)

Phaedra Weldon recently started writing the Zoe Martinique series, about a lady who discovers she can (effectively) astrally travel. Urban fantasy; I don't like it nearly as much as Richardson's Greywalker series, because Zoe seems to have an Idiot Ball permanently welded to one of her hands. (Seriously - if using your powers leaves you unconscious, low on blood sugar after you wake up, and seems to have a real possibility of causing permanent damage each time even if the bad guys DON'T find you? Rushing out by yourself in your car to park near the bad guys' place to do more investigating with your powers is NOT A GOOD IDEA DEAR.)

Tom Weller isn't SF, and is fantasy only in the "making stuff up" sense. But he wrote two absolute parodic gems, _Science Made Stupid_ and _Cvltvre Made Stupid_, which I think are must-reads. (Both are available online, says Wikipedia!)

Angus Wells wrote fantasy (among other things, and among other names too); the series I have of his starts with _Forbidden Magic_.

Michelle (Sagara) West has also been mentioned already under S, as she has written some of her wonderful books as Michelle Sagara. I'm still recommending ANYTHING she's written.

Scott Westerfeld also has non-YA SF out - start that with _The Risen Empire_.

E.B. White wrote the children's book _Charlotte's Web_. Definite talking-animal fantasy (and writing-in-spiderwebs-animal too). He also wrote _Stuart Little_ ... and is (!) the White in Strunk and White, _The Elements of Style_.

T.H. White - Because you'll HAVE to have read it before you're through with him, you've got to start with _The Sword in the Stone_. (As noted, the first four books are packaged together now as _The Once and Future King_; I find even their titles incredibly evocative for some reason - _The Ill-Made Knight_, _The Queen of Air and Darkness_, _The Candle in the Wind_.) If you like Arthurian fantasy of ANY sort at ALL, you have to read him.

Leonard Wibberley, as well as writing the _The Mouse That Roared_ series, wrote some young-adult SF about almost-fantasy space travel. Start that with _Encounter Near Venus_.

(Gina Wickwar has written a couple of Oz books; check the B entry for where to start there/those.)

Cherry Wilder has also written a fantasy series; start it with _A Princess of the Chameln_.

Jay Williams & Raymond Abrashkin - nobody's mentioned them yet at all? Huh. They wrote the lengthy _Danny Dunn_ children's-book series, 15 books' worth (though apparently Abrashkin only lasted five), which starts with _Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint_. An SF / "older inventor and his odd inventions get tested to destruction by three young teenagers" setting; Danny's mother was the Professor's live-in housekeeper. Wackiness invariably ensued, as did hijinks.

Kit Williams is another corner case; he wrote a short illustrated fantasy involving a golden hare ... that had a real-life treasure hunt attached to it: _Masquerade_. It's fairly timeless, and the solution is complex and not obvious.

Sean Williams writes SF, space-opera style, by himself and also with Shane Dix. The series involved start with, respectively, _Astropolis: Saturn Returns_, _Echoes of Earth_, and _Evergence: The Prodigal Sun_. Oh, and _Geodesica: Ascent_. Lots of short series and semi-colons there.

Tad Williams - Agree, really, on _Tailchaser's Song_. His other series that I know of start with, respectively, _The Dragonbone Chair_, _Otherland: City of Golden Shadow_, and _Shadowmarch_, and he's got a few other one-offs as well. I find it usually takes a little while for things to get going in his works, but I don't regret having read any of them all the way through.

Walter Jon Williams - I'd want to start him, personally, with either _Metropolitan_ (except then you run in to the 'is he EVER going to write MORE in this setting??2?' issue) or _Aristoi_.

F. Paul Wilson wrote more horror than SF, but the SF he did write is fairly good. The LaNague Federation (contains libertarianism, though not as much as some authors' efforts) starts with _An Enemy of the State_.

Robert Anton Wilson - Agreed on Illuminatus! (co-written with Robert Shea, so this may have already been noted under S). Don't make my initial mistake - I found, and read, the trilogy in reverse order ... and it made nearly as much sense. It starts with _The Eye in the Pyramid_. He also wrote various followup books, none of which I thought were nearly as much disconnected zaniness.

Robert Charles Wilson - I'd sort of say start with _Spin_, but then I don't think I've read all the RCWilson I own yet.

Christopher Winn wrote a surreal little novel a quarter-century ago: _Legal Daisy Spacing_. (Subtitled, I now see, _The Build-A Planet Manual of Official World Improvements_.) It's all about how to improve your local planet's environment, by getting rid of those nasty wild-growing plant and biped thingys, and making sure that everything conforms to the grid and to your architectural plans. Basically written as though by a completely OCD robot civilization that thinks no amount of bureaucracy is too much. Fairly humorous (the illustrations help a lot).

P.G. Wodehouse is not SF, and not QUITE fantasy. But he's a must-read author; almost nobody did frivolous intertwined upper-class British comedy stories better than him. Nearly anything about Jeeves and Wooster, or Blandings Castle, can serve as a starting point; the _Carry On, Jeeves_ omnibus, or _Lord Emsworth and Others_, will work. He has a good deal of stuff on gutenberg.org as well, but a lot of that isn't quite his best work, from what I've seen.

Gary Wolf wrote _Who Censored Roger Rabbit?_ and its sequel. It's somewhat different from the movie, but not unrecognizably so, and is a fun read.

Gene Wolfe - You could also try a collection of his shorter stories, which should give you some variety, such as _-The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories- and other stories_, _Storeys from the Old Hotel_, etc.

Donald A. Wollheim - The only actual novel I have by him is _The Secret of the 9th Planet_, so that's my default, but he's also edited some collections.

Patricia C. Wrede - Agreed on _Sorcery and Cecilia (or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot)_ - note for new readers: it's an epistolary novel, one composed entirely of letters from a character to another character, back and forth. Her Dragons series starts with _Dealing with Dragons_, and she's got another setting that starts with _Mairelon the Magician_, and several one-offs, and apparently a new series recently started with _Thirteenth Child_. Any of them should get you hooked on her, I'd think.

John C. Wright writes space opera. (Yeah yeah, what is it with me and space opera? My library, my rules!) And pulp-reminiscent fantasy as well. You can start his series with _The Golden Age_ (posthuman SF), or _Orphans of Chaos_ (boarding-school kids who are coming into a whole slew of powers from totally separate paradigms). He also wrote what may be the last word in van Vogt's Null-A series, _Null-A Continuum_.

William F. Wu wrote the _Isaac Asimov's Robots In Time_ series, which starts with _Predator_. Three Laws robots, time travel, and mayhem.

Janny Wurts - Seconded on the Wars of Light & Shadow series, starting with _Curse of the Mistwraith_, extending over eight volumes so far, with three more planned. Intricately plotted high fantasy with equally intricate language, highly enjoyable to me. She's also got another series that starts with _Stormwarden_ (Cycle of Fire), and co-wrote the Empire trilogy with Feist, starting with _Daughter of the Empire_. (Some think that's the best part of the Midkemia series.)

--Dave

PS: Tor? If I'm pasting from _Notepad_ into the comments box? In plain ASCII? I do NOT want to find HTML markup scattered throughout my comment, including bits in the MIDDLE OF SENTENCES. It was plain text when I copied it, it should be plain text when I _paste_ it. Fix this please.
David Levinson
51. DemetriosX
OtterB@49: Darn! I mistakenly included Islandia back in the Ks (for Wright's grandson Tappan Wright King) and meant to mention it again here. Completely forgot. It can be heavy going at times, and the protagonist is a bit of a mooncalf, but it's an interesting utopia.

Nobody's mentioned Ian Watson yet. The only thing I've read is the Books of the Black Current, which start with The Book of the River (or the omnibus edition Yaleen). I don't know if that's a good place to start or not, since I didn't read any more of his stuff after that, but what I did read was interesting.

Also, am I the only Arthurian fan who doesn't like T.H. White? I find it silly, trivializing, and somehow disdainful of the source material. It has just never worked for me. Admittedly, I prefer my Arthur semi-historical, but I do enjoy Maloryesque stuff, too. White just turns me off.

And while we're making comments about the new commenting system to Tor, I really like being able to use keyboard shortcuts and the simplified formatting tools, but is there some reason my browser spellchecker won't work in the comment window? I'd really like to have that back.
Michal Jakuszewski
52. Lfex
I would second starting John C. Wright with The Golden Age trilogy and Peter Watts with Blindsight. For Walter Jon Williams I would probably go with Aristoi and for Sarah Waters with Fingersmith.
Joe Romano
53. Drunes
DemitriosX (@51): I found The Once and Future King too silly, too. I suppose if I had read it earlier in life than I did, it would have been okay. But as an adult, it wasn't what I was looking for.
Jo Walton
54. bluejo
Is Tappan King, author of Downtown, really the grandson of Tappan Wright the author of Islandia?
Wow.
David Levinson
56. DemetriosX
Jo @54: Wikipedia says he is and since his full name is Tappan Wright King I don't see any reason to doubt it.
Rob Munnelly
57. RobMRobM
Since genre seems fully covered, I'd like to put a strong word in for Tom Wolfe. Not a big fan of his novels (such as Bonfire of the Vanities) but love love love his nonfiction works - especially The Right Stuff (about the Mercury space program), Electric Kool Aid Acid Test (Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in 1960s San Fran) and any of his many collections of short pieces (such as his essay entitled The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening - which opens with a subsection called (as I recall) Me and My Hemmorhoid and goes on from there. ) Simply brilliant.

Rob
Dietes
58. KevinMarks
With Evelyn Waugh I'd start with Decline and Fall if you're still relatively young (under 25), and Brideshead Revisited if you're older. Put Out More Flags would be near-contemporary timewise with Farthing, I think.
I'm surprised too at PG Wodehouse's omission. If the Jeeves books are offputting, Leave it to Psmith may be a better starting point.
Connie Willis's Bellwether has been a good starting point for several people I gave it too; that and Passage are both good intro-to-SF-thinking books. Totally agree that Blackout is not a standalone book; Willis plots so meticulously that you are left with too many dangling tendrils.
John Adams
60. JohnArkansawyer
Just to chime in on Jack Williamson's Seetee Ship/Seetee Shock (very much a barely-post-FDR story) and Robert Anton Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati (which makes the Illuminatus! trilogy almost redundant.)
Ben O'Connell
61. benjamin_oc
Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman was a popular American short story writer at the turn of the 20th century. While her stories of the supernatural make up a small part of her body of work, they are wonderful - easily on par with those of Edith Wharton, in whose shadow she frequently gets lost. The Wind in the Rose Bush includes most of them, including "The Lost Ghost," a creepy haunted house story, and "Luella Miller," an early feminist vampire/succubus story.
Dietes
62. NancyM
Interesting that you recommend starting David Weber with the second book in the Honor Harrington series, as On Basilisk Station is the only one I really like (although I've only read about three of them). I don't care much about the plot - when I re-read it I tend to skip the ending - but there is some good "competency porn" before that.
Dietes
63. DragonRose
Scott Westerfeld-I've only read his YA books but they are some of my favorites. Start with Peeps, but make sure to read So Yesterday it's a stand alone and has the best use of a tuxedo i've ever read.
Jo Walton
64. bluejo
Re Wodehouse -- I read a number of his books randomly from libraries, probably half a dozen or so, and never really warmed to them. I didn't love them or hate them, I could read them and mildly enjoy them, or I could not bother and didn't care.
Dietes
65. David DeLaney
And if I haven't mentioned this before, thanks for letting me play, and expostulate at length, in your comments sections, Jo!

--Dave, one more to go, eh?
Dietes
66. dmg
Letter after letter, and, despite the attempts by the completists, so many excellent authors missed! Really, I have half a mind to go back to the other letters and offer up some inclusions. (The very picture of futility. Who visits the archives? :-)

A few more W authors...

Sage Walker: Whiteout - C'mon, Jo, Sage's novel seems a natural recommendation from you! :-)
Marianne Wiggins: John Dollar - (among her many excellent books)
Oscar Wilde: Just about his entire oeuvre! (Oops, I see 3 other respondents beat me to the punch. That's me: a day late and a dollar short! :-)
Paul Wilkes: Temptations - Okay, I admit, this book is a personal favorite, as its sub-text speaks volumes to me!
Jo Walton: I am interested in which book(s) you would suggest to a non-fantasy reader.
Dietes
67. OtterB
David DeLaney @50 Danny Dunn! I loved Danny Dunn! I hadn't thought about those for years.

DemetriosX @51 I knew someone had mentioned Islandia out of place, but didn't remember where. I was looking to see it come up again but figured I'd better toss it in when nobody else did.
Jo Walton
68. bluejo
DMG: Farthing, it's alternate history.
James Cappio
69. cappio
Jack Womack is one of the most brilliant and one of the most underrated SF writers ever.

That can't be repeated often enough, until it becomes no longer true. One should start with Random Acts the first time through the Dryco books and read them in internal chronlogical order, then start again with Ambient to read them in order of publication. And one should read the totally amazing Let's Put the Future Behind Us at least twice. I'm pretty sure Gary Shteyngart has.

Wodehouse read all of Shakespeare every year (or every other year, depending on who you believe), and it shows most clearly in Joy in the Morning (Jeeves in the Morning in the US and A), with its deliciously silly digs at the man himself ("prone to stealing ducks") and the running joke about the fretful porpentine, all wrapped in the slightly-at-an-angle-to reality muffler that is the language of Bertie Wooster.

And I'd start Waugh with Vile Bodies; if I had the book at hand I'd offer a quote to show why.
S. L. Casteel
70. castiron
Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little House in the Big Woods if you want to read them in chronological order; Farmer Boy if you want to figure out whether you like the style before you dive in to the whole series. Do not under any circumstances start with The First Four Years.

Wodehouse: The Girl in Blue is a very entertaining standalone book.
Michael Burke
71. Ludon
Just a note to try to avoid confusion. When doing internet searches for Laura Ingalls Wilder you are likely to see some listings for Laura Ingalls' aviation accomplishments. Laura Ingalls the Writer and Laura Ingalls the Aviatrix are not the same person.

And a suggestion to writers. It may be worth looking into Laura Ingalls the Aviatrix as source material for a strong female character. She set some records and achieved a few aviation firsts and she even bombed the White House - with leaflets during the build-up to World War Two.
Dietes
72. dmg
Got it, Jo.

No, I really got it... as in I have already a hardback of Farthing in my library. :-)

Well, it was in my library; now it sits on my desk, on the top of my pile.

Thank you.
me
Tomasz P.
73. Nieznany
Connie Willis - I love her sense of humour! I started with Bellwether, but To say nothing of a dog is good starting point too.
Dietes
74. filkferengi
Elisabeth Waters' _Change Of Fate_ is a fun novel about shape-shifters with some surprising twists. She's also edited the last few _Sword And Sorceress_ anthologies, out from Norilana Press.
Liza .
75. aedifica
filkferengi @ 74, the copy on my bookcase is titled Changing Fate. :-)
Dietes
76. thanate
Martha Wells writes complex and well thought out fantasy with really excellent characters; I think someone recommended her Death of the Necromancer earlier in this thread, but I would recommend starting with either:
The Element of Fire, set in a place vaguely resembling musketeer-era France, but with both alchemy-style sorcery and faerie magic, neither of which is handled quite the way you'd expect.
or City of Bones, which takes place in a centuries-post-apocalyptic world full of ancient archaeology and multi-level politics, and where one of the main characters is post-human.

Also, for Wrede I would have said to start with Marelon the Magician; I find it smoother and more cohesive than Sorcery & Cecelia, although I wouldn't wish to discourage anyone from reading the latter.
Dietes
77. Jinian
If you don't like YA and do like dark, start Scott Westerfeld with the unusual and potentially shocking Evolution's Darling, and then move to the Risen Empire books. Peeps really is marvelous, though.

John C. Wright writes fun, fast-moving stories that make me absolutely crazy due to deeply steeped conservatism; read with caution.
Dietes
78. coalbiter
Henry Williamson
Tarka the Otter - vivid and unsentimental description of an animal's life.
Chronicles of Ancient Sunlight - semi-autobiographical sequence that contains some beautiful writing. The 15 volume series follows the life of Phillip Maddison from the time of his birth at the end of the nineteenth century until the early 1950s, and gives an incredibly detailed portrait of life in England before, during and after the two world wars. That's the upside! The downside is that Williamson was an admirer of Hitler and a follower of Oswald Mosley. To me that's part of the work's fascination, that one can dislike the protagonist and find his views abhorrent, yet at the same time have some sympathy for him. The first eight volumes take one to the end of the First world war, so there's plenty of reading before the politics becomes too much.
Dietes
79. ejf
Just in case anyone else is reading the archives (I am, so it doesn't seem completely impossible), some clarification about the various authors with William and Watkins in their names.

Going to See the End of the Sky and The Centrifugal Rickshaw Dancer were written by William John Watkins who was writing in the mid '80's and '90's. There's also a William Jon Watkins who was writing in the '70's and early '80's. I suspect these are 2 different people, but I wouldn't swear to it.

Like James Davis Nicoll, I enjoyed the first book enough to buy the 2nd, but haven't read them recently and don't remember much about them.

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