Help needed… book recommendation…

Posted On 9 April 2016

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 33 responses

IMG_1400That may seem a silly opening line but I need help suggesting a couple of books to somebody who I work with – I know!  I should be able to come up with something but the fact is that this person has read no SFF at all, ever.  Not only that, he hasn’t seen Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter – in fact I could just keep going which means I can’t say ‘if you like this, then you’ll like this’.  If you imagine a completely SFF free zone (difficult to imagine and not a place I wish to go :D) then you’ve hit the nail on the head.  However, said young chap would like to read something (I think I’ve managed to create a little spark of interest there and would like to help fan the flames (queue evil cackle)!  So, obviously I’m not going to just chuck him in at the deep end and want to give him an adventure, light fantasy, not a huge ass tome and I’m open to suggestions????  I was wondering about The Graveyard Book but I’m not so sure really…  Maybe something creepy – what was that book that really first hooked you into SFF?  suggestions please…





33 Responses to “Help needed… book recommendation…”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    How could I resist this call for help? Not to mention that adding a new adept into the SFF readers’ circle is both a joy and a challenge… Something creepy, as you ask, would not go well with your other request for “light” – I understand not wanting to scare off this person – so my suggestions would be:

    Science Fiction: John Scalzi – he’s light but he’s also deep, even though deceptively so, which makes him perfect for a newcomer. His “Old Man’s War” would be a good starting point; or maybe “Fuzzy Nation”.

    Fantasy: how about a good heist story? “The Palace Job” by Patrick Weekes is both light and intriguing, and I believe no one could resist the shape-changing unicorn and the talking sword… 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha – funnily enough I was thinking a heist book and having just read a review of Danya’s for The Palace Job was thinking that could be the one. Or, the other I was thinking were the Castell books – they’re quite good fun. Thanks for the suggestions.
      Lynn 😀

  2. TheTattooedBookGeek

    No Star Wars, No Game of Thrones, No LOTR and No Harry Potter!!!! Tuts to myself and shakes head, the shame! 😦

    Nicely worded ‘huge ass tome’ quality! 🙂

    I’d suggest both, Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence or Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, neither are that long at about 400 pages for fantasy books and both are quality reads with great storylines and gripping characters.

    And my other suggestion wouldbe Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell, it’s just under the 400 page mark and is like a fantasy version of the Three Musketeers.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I was also thinking of the Castell book – or The Palace Job by Brent Weeks.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Zezee

    Hmm… I usually check first to see what the person usually like to read or watch or listen to and then see what sort of fantasy book would closely match it.
    If he likes to play games or grew up in the ’80s/’90s then maybe he should try “Ready Player One.” I haven’t yet read it but the majority of readers who have often suggest it to people with such interests.
    If he likes fun and a bit of romance then “Princess Bride” or fun with option of a series if he wants to continue, then “The Hobbit,” which really he should just read because it’s great.
    Light but with religious undertone “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” or “The Magician’s Nephew” (no pressure there to read the whole series either).
    Interested in science and space, “The Martian”. I gave my copy to my uncle because he wanted to be an astronaut. (Haven’t yet read it either but I read many reviews on it.) Plus, it’s funny.
    But if he wants to dive into a tome then yeah, Game of Thrones.

    • @lynnsbooks

      All very good suggestions. I do love the Princess Bride – book and film. I thought about Ready Player One – I think it’s a good suggestion although he’s only 18 so not sure he will understand all the references.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Combustible reviews

    Is your friend someone who hasn’t read these specific genres or just hasn’t read in general?

    I second The Martian. There’s some techincal aspects which people either love or just don’t understand, (like me), but Mark Watney who tells the story is written brilliantly. It’s really enjoyable.

    Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett? Or The long earth which is kind of a mix of sci fi and fantasy. It was a good introduction to sci fi for me. Terry Pratchett is just amazing in general.

    There’s also The Spook’s apprentice by Joseph Delaney, (darker fantasy), which is aimed at younger readers, but I think is brilliant regardless. There’s also Artemis Fowl by Neil Gaiman.

    And, of course, Harry Potter, which you mentioned up above.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Guards! Guards! is a really good suggestion. Terry Pratchett could be an amazing place to start. I like that. Or the Spook’s apprentice. Thanks
      Lynn 😀

  5. Litha Nelle

    I would go with anything Brandon Sanderson. I like Elantris, but many other people really love Mistborn (more than I like it). Since you won’t let me recommend a tome/any book in the Stormlight Archive, that’ll have to do. 😉
    ~Litha Nelle

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha – yeah I love the Stormlight Archive but probably not the place for a newbie to start – although Sanderson is very good! Thanks
      Lynn 😀

  6. victoriansoul

    I would go with anything Brandon Sanderson. I like Elantris, but many other people really love Mistborn (more than I like it). Since you won’t let me recommend a tome/any book in the Stormlight Archive, that’ll have to do.😉
    ~Litha Nelle

  7. Genki Jason

    JG Ballard might be a little too heavy but his works are excellent. Richard K. Morgan does great SF action tales as well.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks Jason – I’ve not read either of those so I’ll have to go and check them out myself too!
      Lynn 😀

  8. Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

    How about Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine? It’s a slow-paced fantasy with an intriguingly complex yet simple plot, and reminiscent of Harry Potter. I don’t know many.”light” fantasy books. Maybe Soul Eater by Eliza Crewe, though it’s more paranormal!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think this is a much more difficult question than I ever suspected tbh. That’s why I chucked it out there ‘a headache shared, etc’. The main problem of course is that I don’t really know what he would generally enjoy reading and therein lies the problem. Ink and Bone sounds like a good idea though.
      Lynn 😀

  9. imyril

    I’d third the Martian as I’ve had a number of non-SF-reading friends/family members lap it up. I think Richard Morgan is fab but a daunting starting point for a new reader – very political, very violent, very bleak. I’d steer towards Scalzi instead.

    In terms of things not mentioned yet, how about something like Harry Dresden? I’m always (predictably) going to suggest Locke Lamora too – it gets brutal, but so much of it is madcap heist, and the first book can stand alone. In a similar vein, Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker.

    • imyril

      Um, to answer your ‘what got me hooked’ tho – Alan Garner (but your friend is probably slightly too old for this to be a great point of entry now), Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books (similar problem), and Tolkien’s Hobbit.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Perhaps I should pick up one of the suggestions that I haven’t read yet as well – that way I could read it at the same time. I haven’t read much Scaldi and also the Angelmaker sounds like a possibility.
      Lynn 😀

  10. nrlymrtl

    Does this guy read regularly for fun? Mysteries? Nonfiction? Romance? Depending on his answer, I would be tempted to recommend something that’s close to what he likes. Like urban fantasy murder mysteries (Jim Butcher, Gary Jonas, Seanan McGuire, etc.) if he’s into mysteries. If it’s nonfiction, then some hard SF like The Martian. For romance, there’s lots of paranormal shifter fantasy and I recommend Patricia Briggs. If he loves historical fiction then absolutely Guy Gavriel Kay.

    • Redhead

      This is a great suggestion. find out what they already like, and then suggest SF titles that have similar themes. Person loves police procedurals on TV? Set him up with Jim Butcher or Ben Aaronovitch. Likes stores with lots of action? Maybe Myke Cole would be right up their alley. Prefers books that are more literature-y? Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

      i had a similar situation backfire on me, a friend, who only reads mainstream thrillers, asked me for some scifi/fantasy recommendations. I gave her two of my favorites (which were not anything like what she was used to!), she read 20 pages of each, handed them back, and never touched a spec fic book again.

      • @lynnsbooks

        I quite like the idea of Butcher or Aaronovich – and along similar lines Jacka or Hearne.
        Lynn 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I quite like the idea of Butcher and along similar lines maybe Hearne?
      Lynn 😀

  11. jessicabookworm

    “he hasn’t seen Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter”….I can’t help it….has he been living under a rock?! 😀

    I first fell in love with fantasy with The Hobbit – I know Tolkien is a little epic but unlike The Lord of the Rings this is a simple, children’s adventure. While I am not sure when I fell in love with science-fiction – I think I did and still do watch more SF than read. However I am currently reading The Martian and I think it would be very accessible for a non-SF fan too; as their is the human drama to it too.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Funnily enough – out of all my ‘have you read this or watched that’ queries the only film that I came up with was The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe – which he said he enjoyed. I think he lives in a bubble!
      Lynn 😀

  12. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    A lot of folks have already made fantastic suggestions, and I second a lot of them. Here’s what I kinda thought of:

    Something creepy – The Girl with All the Gifts! Or The Fifth House of the Heart, if he prefers something with a bit more humor 😀

    Something fantasy adventure – Traitor’s Blade!

    Something urban/contemporary fantasy – The Immortals!

    Something sci-fi-ish – Old Man’s War! Scalzi’s books were kind of my own “gateway” into the genre when I needed something light to wet my feet 🙂

    There are a lot of books I nixed because I feel they might not interest a new reader to SFF, so these are the books that imo have more “wide appeal”.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really like the idea of The Girl with All the Gifts. And Traitor’s Blade. Old Man’s War is also getting a lot of love and I haven’t read that – so perfect opp!
      Lynn 😀

      • Grace

        I second The Girl With All the Gifts. It seems pretty accessible. 🙂

      • @lynnsbooks

        Yeah, it’s such a good book.
        Lynn 😀

  13. Two Dudes in an Attic

    Most people tend to go with Scalzi as a gateway, which is something I agree with. William Gibson might work – Bridge of Light or Pattern Recognition maybe. Douglas Adams? Everyone loves The Hitchhiker’s Guide. I feel like Elizabeth Bear ought to have something appropriate as well, but not sure which one. Karen Memory isn’t exactly standard SFF.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I also like the idea of Douglas Adams. Will have to dig out my copy!
      Lynn 😀

  14. Magini - books

    Gosh, these kinds of people exist… scary

    how about The Martian?

    Graveyard book is fantastic and pretty much anything by Gaiman I’ve read was, so go for it :P. My favorite two are Neverwhere and Ocean at the end of the lane, also Stardust… and the other books 😛

    Pratchett is also great – light and funny but filled with magic and imaginative world

    • @lynnsbooks

      I also love Gaiman – and I need to read more Pratchett so this could be a good opportunity.
      Lynn 😀

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