Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Ah comfort reads, those books that you turn to again and again, stories that fill you with nostalgia and a sense of wellbeing. In honour of Wyrd and Wonder I’m focusing purely on Fantasy reads for this one, it’s probably for the best as I struggled to keep it to 10 as it is…
1. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
This book is the ultimate comfort read for me, it’s like a big warm hug for me at this point. I’ve reread it at least once a year since it was released and I probably will from here on out. TGE was a game changer when it first came out, complex, political fantasy that was also quiet, introspective and character driven. In the face of the the 2010’s tidal wave of grimdark (some of it excellently written!) TGE was a whole new ballgame, brimming with hope, building alliances and learning how to do the right thing.
2. The Once & Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
There are some books that speak right to the core of you and this is one of them. TOFW is in my top books of all time, easily blending resistance to oppression, witchcraft, the suffrage movement, sisterhood, motherhood with a stunning turn for structural blending. It’ll stab you in the heart but it’ll also fill you with hope and make you laugh.
3. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Novik managed to produce a book that is simply beautiful, it’s a fairytale I wish I’d had when I was younger. In this one the heroines save themselves, they do hard things for the right reasons and they make mistakes. It speaks to so many of my favourite themes and it’s the Rumpelstiltskin retelling of my dreams.
4. Fire by Kristin Cashore
Found families, archery, complications of motherhood and monsterhood, spying, creating your own heroes, resistance and an enemies to friends to lovers relationship that really works. I loved Graceling the first time I read it, but it’s Fire that has latched onto my heart.
5. Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch
If I need something that will make me laugh, keep my brain occupied by the truly excellent world building and mysterious plots whilst also packing an emotional punch? This is the one I need. This series has grown so organically and the characters grow with it. It’s always a pleasure to watch Abigail Kamara kicking ass and Peter Grant learning to face up to his responsibilities and take up the space he is due. I’m currently rereading via audiobook so that I can get to Amongst Our Weapons…
6. Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
I think Discworld was my first true comfort read. I first read Pratchett (Feet of Clay specifically) at the formative age of about 13 and it’s a place I can always go back to. I find different things there each time I return to this wonderful cast of eccentrics and oddballs all fighting to find a way to be good – for various definitions of good. The Vimes Boots theory of economics and justice got me young. I hope it never lets me go.
7. Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley
I think Spindle’s End was the first time I saw a fairytale deconstructed and there’s elements in there that have shaped my enjoyment of a lot of SFF over the years. Heroines who save themselves, exploring the subversion of traditional storytelling tropes, found families and dual identities. It’s always a lovely one to return to and its deeply nostalgic.
8. Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
A newer addition but a delightful one. Nevermoor is wonderful, the truly diverse and fantastical successor to the HP generation packed with wonderful characters, magical world building and one of my favourite explorations of the chosen one narrative.
9. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. You can’t write an author off after one book. If I’d read Shadow and Bone first I would never have stuck around to explore the sheer delight that is SoC. Packed with hilarious banter and brilliant character dynamics alongside clever discussions of monstrousness, violence and prejudice, there’s more to find whenever I reread.
10. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
I tried to read Gaiman on multiple occasions as a youngster but I bounced off him frequently (I think I was just too young). Then I read Good Omens, the masterpiece he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, and I decided to give him another try. I picked Neverwhere because I had read and adored Kate Griffin’s The Midnight Mayor earlier that year which used it as a comp title. I fell into Gaiman’s magical London and the adventures of Door, Richard, the Marquis and co. I never looked back.