OK, where do I start with that?

OK, where do I start with that? X,Y,Z.

So this week we reach the end of the alphabet and the end of our alphabetical survey of my bookshelves. I’d like to thank everyone for such excellent additions and comments—I can only make suggestions for where to start with authors I read, and the additions have made this a much better series. Please continue to do this, and don’t hesitate to argue with me or with each other as to where is best to start. I hope this going to be actually useful for people. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it, and I hope you have, too.

Some of the alphabet quotes I’ve used, and especially this one, are from Alison Uttley’s alphabet book, which I used to own as a poster when my son was a baby.

X contains one solitary author, and that on the classics shelves. You should start Xenophon with the Anabasis, or Inland Journey. It’s the true story of how some Greek mercenaries had adventures getting out of Persia. He also wrote a pile of other books all available on Gutenberg, which are all worth reading.

Y begins with W.B. Yeats, and while I have some of his fairy tales, if you haven’t read him you should certainly start with the poetry.

Next on my shelves is a book that doesn’t seem to be in print in this edition any more, what a pity, though the text is online. It’s The Word, by YHWH, the Bible in mass market paperback with a cover that makes it look like a post-apocalyptic novel. It’s the ideal edition for SF readers who want to sometimes look things up in the Bible but are slightly embarrassed to have one of those copies with a cross on the front that look so… religious.

Jane Yolen is an excellent poet and writer of YA and adult SF and fantasy. You could start with the brilliant but distressing Briar Rose, or with the Pit Dragon books. The only caveat with Yolen is to check the age range before buying, as she does write picture books for very young children. Of course, if you have very young children, that would be perfect.

Robert F. Young wrote some of the loveliest and most poetic short stories ever written—I used to rank him with Bradbury and Sturgeon, but he seems to be mostly forgotten these days. Start with the collection The Worlds of Robert F. Young, which somebody should reprint.

Roger Zelazny almost single-handedly fills a whole shelf, and he is one of the great writers of the genre. I would suggest starting either with the NESFA six volume edition of Zelazny’s collected short stories or with Nine Princes in Amber.

Stephan Zielinski has only written one book as far as I know, Bad Magic. It’s that unusual thing, a book well described by its tag line. “There are things man was not meant to know. Some people know them anyway. Sucks to be them.”

David Zindell wrote widescreen baroque SF novel Neverness and three sequels with the overall title A Requiem for Homo Sapiens, and a fantasy series I haven’t read. Start with Neverness, which closes my fiction bookshelves.

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.


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