300+ Books That I Love to Read Over and Over Again

May 16, 2023 at 9:53 pm (Uncategorized)

I finally sorted 700+ books on my kindle, and these are the ones that are good enough they’re on my “Favourites” list, meaning I’ve read them at least twice and plan to read them many more times for the rest of my life. There are over 70 authors here.

Please note: I have carefully NOT included people I consider friends, or who I might possibly run into at the supermarket. Let’s just assume that if you’re a writer and you know me, your book would absolutely definitely be at the very top of this list.

I’ll be going alphabetically by author, and keeping my reviews as short as possible, but linking to some of the blog posts I made along the way as well. The links also include comments on books that didn’t make the list.

In many cases I haven’t reviewed a full series because it’s either unfinished, or I like the books enough to re-read them but not enough to buy more (in some cases I can’t bear for the characters to go through more pain, so I stop the series at a reasonably happy point). More often, however, I just haven’t gotten around to buying more. In fact, I bought quite a few books while doing my great book sort—what joy, to rediscover an old book AND discover more in the same series!

I’ve tried to note where there is sexual violence or explicit mental health issues, but there’s a lot of books on this list so I’m not 100% sure I’ve remembered them all.

There are so many extremely (suspiciously) similar covers, that I’m only including pictures of covers that look uncannily like covers by a different author in this list.

Sometimes I see repeating themes in different books by the same author. Other times I really need to describe their different books separately. If there’s a series, I usually only describe the first book.

I’ve marked with an * the books that I think most people will find to be truly great and/or literary writing. My personal taste runs strongly to non-epic (often young adult) fantasy adventure stories.

Aaron, Rachel: “Minimum Wage Magic” (but not the rest of the series)

Title says it all: Realistic fantasy with deadpan humour. More detail here.

Allain, Suzanne: “Mr Malcolm’s List”

Austenish romance with plenty of humour. More detail here.

Anders, Charlie Jane: “The City in the Middle of the Night”

Cross-cultural scifi with a LOT of pointless and sudden death as young people try to fix one of three societies in a hostile planet. More here.

Andrews, Ilona: Innkeeper series, starting with “Clean Sweep”

Fantasy with scifi leanings as the heroine hosts many aliens (often warring/assassin aliens) at her magical inn. More info here.

*Arden, Katherine: Winternight trilogy, starting with “The Bear and the Nightingale”

Intense and stunning medieval fantasy set in Rus’ (now known as Russia). More details here. There is often the threat of sexual violence against women, and (disturbingly) one of the kindest male characters is in an arranged marriage to a woman that is not willing. Neither of them has a choice to marry, and she enjoys being a mother, and is fundamentally resigned to her fate… but it’s still awful. The reader can choose to hate the husband and/or the society and/or the relative that ordered the marriage.

Baker, Mishell, Arcadia Trilogy, starting with “Borderline”

A woman who is very disabled due to jumping off a roof is recruited to deal with the travel arrangements between our world and the world of the fairies—and by “our world” I mean “Los Angeles”. More here. Most of the characters have significant mental illnesses.

Bardugo, Leigh: Many books including “Shadow and Bone”

Dark, often tragic fantasy in which bittersweet is the best you can hope for. But there’s joy in it too, and humour. And it’s so compelling, and the characters are so well-written that you understand every choice they make. Definitely some sexual violence going on in this world eg a character who is unhappily working as a prostitute. Plenty of general violence too.

Barnhill, Kelly: “The Witch’s Boy” and “The Girl Who Drank The Moon”

Unrelated books but both have parents forced to make terrible decisions, with their children suffering as a result. But they are also full of kindness, goodness, and hope. And they work it all out in the end.

Bayron, Kalynn: “Cinderella is Dead”

This is an attempt to escape a misogynistic dystopia in which the religion and laws are based on the Cinderella tale… which really happened in this world 200 years ago.

Berry, T.J: Space Unicorn Blues and Five Unicorn Flush

Bonkers space opera in which being a unicorn will get you killed for your horn.

Blake, Kendare: “Three Dark Crowns” series, starting with “Three Dark Crowns”

Dark fantasy about three sisters. One is born to rule and the other two must be killed at her hand. Lots of murder, betrayal, and childhood trauma.

Brozek, Jennifer: Melissa Allen Trilogy, starting with “Never Let Me Sleep”

Melissa is a troubled teen and the only survivor of… something… that has killed her entire town.

Bryson, Bill: Funny travel books including “Down Under”

Nonfiction that I reread is rare. They’re a little dated now but when he mocks himself it’s always comedy gold. More details here.

Burgis, Stephanie: Scales and Sensibility

Austen-ish… with dragons and a profound awareness of class structure.

Carriger, G L: Especially the San Andreas Shifters series and the Tinkered Stars books (=Gail Carriger)

Carriger uses “G. L.” when there are explicit gay sex scenes. These books are lovely and kind and healing. The Shifters series takes place in her usual magical steampunk universe (with some characters overlapping) and the Tinkered Starts books are technically scifi (with aliens).

Carriger, Gail: Soulless series; Parasol Protectorate…. there’s a lot but “Soulless” is the start (=GL Carriger)

Romantic fantasy humour adventure steampunk books. Same universe as the San Andres Shifters, and also has several gay love stories (and plenty of straight love stories too). But the focus is on the adventures, including vampires and werewolves.

Charles, KJ: “The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting” and “Any Old Diamonds”

Austen-ish gay romance except there’s explicit sex. Lots of fun, and sweet too.

Cho, Zen “Sorcerer to the Crown”

In the middle of the struggles of nations and worlds, England’s first African Sorcerer Royal meets another first: a female sorcerer.

Clare, Cassandra: Infernal Devices Series, starting with “Clockwork Angel”

Magical steampunk adventure including slightly grating YA romance (too much “OOH! He SO PRETTY!” for my taste). This is a prequel to the “Shadowhunters” series, which goes even harder on the romance, which is why it gets skipped here.

Cogman, Genevieve: The Invisible Library series, starting with “The Invisible Library”

Magical library adventure.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: All original “Sherlock Holmes” tales

Dated in style and sexism, but thoroughly readable and fascinating.

Duprau, Jeanne: The City of Ember trilogy, starting with “The City of Ember”

Before a great catastrophe, an underground city was set up and supplied with everything it would need. But now supplies are running out, and the instructions on what to do next were lost long ago. The Ancients are a deux ex machina more than once, but the characters and drama make it still worth reading.

Fletcher, Charlie: Oversight Trilogy, starting with “The Oversight”

The Oversight protects the mundane world. They used to be powerful and now they’re barely scraping by. When a screaming girl lands on their doorstep, she could be the one to save them—or destroy them.

*Freeman, Pamela: Castings series starting with “Blood Ties”; “The Fastest Ship in Space” (=Pamela Hart)

The Castings series has lots of rape but the stories are so good it’s worth it. Fantasy. “The Fastest Ship in Space” is a fun kids’ adventure (Her entire “Princess Betony” series is pure magic for kids too). More details here. I met the author at a conference and I think we’re still loosely connected via Facebook. She is friendly and likeable.

Gailey, Sarah: “Upright Women Wanted”

The setting is a Western with a repressive society. Travelling librarians who take on a young girl trying her best not to be gay. There are some surprises ahead for all of them.

Goss, Theodora: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, starting with “The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter”

Many of the most famous Victorian-era scientists experimented on women, including their daughters. What happens when those daughters join forces? An extremely fun and funny tale of monsters united against their tormentors.

Grant, Mira: “Into the Drowning Deep” (=Seanan McGuire)

Deep-sea horror.

Hardy, Janice: Healing Wars Trilogy, starting with “The Shifter”

Nya is a teen orphan struggling to survive, and she must also hide her own unusual magic so she isn’t forced to use it in war. But then her sister disappears.

Harper, Molly: Sorcery and Society series, starting with “Changeling”

Only the upper class has magic. Everyone knows that. So Cassandra must be careful to keep her magic secret. Until it isn’t.

Hart, Pamela: “Digging Up Dirt” (=Pamela Freeman)

Wonderful cozy murder mystery with a touch of archeology. More details here.

Hawker, Olivia: “The Ragged Edge of Night”

Historical novel about two very kind people who have been broken by the Nazis but are still doing their best. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, heart-healing story. It is based on a true story, amazingly.

Henry, Christina: “The Mermaid”

P. T. Barnum hears about a real mermaid, and wants to exploit her.

Holmberg, Charlie N. “Spellbreaker” and the sequel “Spellmaker”

I find a lot of Holmberg’s books too focused on the romance, but this duology I like. Elsie is an unlicensed spellbreaker who gets caught red-handed by another unorthodox magic user.

Howard, Kat: “Roses and Rot”; “An Unkindness of Magicians”

These unrelated books are both about the cost of magic, and what their heroines are willing to sacrifice.

Huff, Tanya: “Sing the Four Quarters” and “The Quartered Sea” (but not the rest of the series)

In “Sing the Four Quarters” the princess-turned-bard suddenly comes to the attention of the palace when a pleasant dalliance turns into a potential heir. More detail here.

Hunter, Faith: Soulwood series, starting with “Curse on the Land”

Nell escaped a cult and has lived a very simple life ever since, using her potent magic only for defense. But her family is still in the cult, and it’s time to face them. Hunter’s “Jane Yellowrock” series is also excellent (same world) but all of them are quite dark (including the kind of sexual violence you expect in a cult) so I decided not to regularly reread it.

Johnston, E. K.: That Inevitable Victorian Thing

The crown princess has one last summer of freedom before the computers will decide on the most advantageous match for her.

Kingfisher, T.: many books, including “A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking”

Sweet, cozy horror. This author is clearly very sweet and lovely but also deeply sick (there will be SOMETHING horrific in every book, such as an undead horse). I love her. Some of her books are in the same universe, but most are stand-alones. More detail here.

Kontis, Alethea: “Enchanted”

A tale of the least magical (or so she thinks) member of a very magical family. And her friend who happens to be a frog. I enjoyed the rest of the series more than once, but felt it got a little too cutesy for me to reread regularly.

Kowal, Mary Robinette: “For Want of a Nail”

A scifi novelette.

Kwan, Kevin: Crazy Rich Asians series, starting with “Crazy Rich Asians”

This is a razor-sharp satirical series about the uber-rich fashions, lifestyles, and dramas of Singapore. Funny and fascinating.

Kwaymullina, Amber: The Tribe trilogy, starting with “The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf”

The great fantasy series has very intense friendships between teens and children that have had to form their own society—and now it’s at risk.

Lancaster, A. J. Stariel quartet + 1, starting with “The Lord of Stariel”

Hetta returns (briefly) to her ancestral home for her (horrible) father’s funeral, and the magical choosing of the next heir. Which will be either her magically gifted cousin or her wounded older brother.

Landy, Derek: Skulduggery Pleasant series, starting with “Skulduggery Pleasant”

Very funny horror, but the stakes are real (good people can die) so it gets a bit less fun later on. Still good though.

Larke, Glenda: Mirage Makers trilogy starting with “Heart of the Mirage” and Isles of Glory Trilogy starting with “The Aware”

More details here. There’s a LOT of sexual violence in these books, including male child slaves (offscreen) and major female characters. But they’re incredibly potent and involving fantasy tales.

Lawson, Jenny: “Broken”

Another rare nonfiction tale. This is incredibly funny and often alarming. Lawson is clinically depressed so this may be therapeutic or triggering depending on your own coping mechanisms.

Lee, Mackenzi: Montague Siblings, starting with “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue”

Is there anything more tauntingly enjoyable than a trip around Europe with your crush? How about if you’re a bisexual lord, your crush is another man, and you know this is your last moment of freedom before settling into your gentlemanly duties?

Macallister, G. R.: “The Five Queendoms — Scorpica”

An epic fantasy series with gods, betrayal, tradition, and magic. Very dark (I can’t remember if there’s sexual violence but I’d consider it likely).

*McGuire, Seanan: Wayward Children series, starting with “Every Heart a Doorway”

McGuire will hurt you. This is a haunting, beautiful set of stories about children who don’t belong in our world. She writes a lot of great books, and they are all filled with deep emotional pain as well as heroic kindness and courage.

McKinley, Robin: “Beauty”

A dreamy retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”. See more here, including some warnings about her unfinished series.

Menchacha, Elijah: “They Met in a Tavern”

A group of retired heroes has to get back together to save the day, and they are not happy about it. Definitely some PTSD there, among other issues.

Mikalatos, Matt: The Sunlit Lands trilogy starting with “The Crescent Stone”

Madeline Oliver loves fantasy worlds, and then she gets to live in one. But there is a dark secret at the heart of the Sunlit Lands. These books changed my life, and I’ve made sure to tell the author so. We’re connected on twitter and FaceBook, and we are both Christians horrified by what “Christian” is coming to mean in the US.

Milford, Kate: “The Kairos Mechanism” and “Greenglass House”

“The Kairos Mechanism” is about a very young heroine in what looks like a sleepy town of the American West. But there are powerful forces at play and Natalie’s considerable courage will be badly needed. “Greenglass House” is about young Milo dealing with an unexpected influx of mysterious guests at his parents’ inn.

Moriarty, Jaclyn: “The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone” and a prequel “The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars”

Bronte’s parents were killed by pirates long ago but left her a quest that turns out to be more than slightly inconvenient. Moriarty’s writing is incredibly eccentric and cute. Some books I love and others set my teeth on edge.

Nichols, Sophie: “The Dress”

Fabbia arrives in a small town and sets up a vintage dress shop. She is fabulous, and claims her dresses are magical… but her daughter Ella just wants to fit in.

Nicholson, William: Wind on Fire trilogy, starting with “The Wind Singer”; Noble Warriors trilogy “Seeker”

The “Wind on Fire” trilogy is an epic fantasy focused on one family and their courage escaping a dystopia. “Seeker” is about a found family of misfits determined to uncover magical secrets.

Nix, Garth: Old Kingdom series starting with either “Clariel” (a prequel) or “Sabriel”; “Left-Handed Booksellers of London” series starting with “The Left-Handed Booksellers of London”; various others (some great, some merely good)

The Old Kingdom series (originally a trilogy but now 6 books and a novella) is about two worlds that do not mix well. A 1920s-style world much like our own, and a land of dark magic and beautiful things that is roughly medieval in style. The Left-Handed Booksellers are a group of people that police the lines between ancient magics and 1980s London. Nix and I are loosely connected on FaceBook and I’ve gently stalked him at a conference.

*Novik, Naomi: “Uprooted”, “Spinning Silver” and the Scholomance trilogy starting with “A Deadly Education”

This writer is a genius and she keeps getting better. “Uprooted” is about a girl who never thought the wizard would choose her as his price for her valley’s protection (there is an attempted rape); “Spinning Silver” is glorious medieval Russian fantasy; and the Scholomance series is a darkly hilarious story about a school for wizarding children that has a very low survival rate (but be warned: Books 1 and 2 end on cliffhangers). More details here.

Odell, Clare: “A Study in Honor”

A near-future Sherlock Holmes with a lesbian couple as Sherlock and Watson.

*Okorafor, Nnedi: “The Girl With the Magic Hands”, “Binti” series, and more

Okorafor is a writer of Nigerian descent and her style is incredible although often way too dark for me. I am also a big fan of her cat, Periwinkle Chukwu, is the star of an upcoming picture book and also features in one of my own upcoming books (“Fine Felines” post-comp version).

Page, Shannon & Lake, Jay: “Our Lady of the Islands”

Sian Katte is a successful businesswoman until one day she is given a strange power that turns her life and her world upside down.

Painter, Sarah: Crow Investigations series, starting with “The Night Raven”

Lydia has hardly any magic, which has been useful in keeping her away from her crimelord uncle. But he’s paying her well to do just one small job and as a PI down on her luck she can’t resist.

Pape, Cindy Spencer: Steam & Sorcery

Sir Merrick Hadrian needs a governess to assist with his five recently-adopted children. Miss Caroline Bristol doesn’t want to work for someone so handsome, but she has no other options. Two thoroughly decent people in a world of magic and mayhem.

Peters, Elizabeth: “Crocodile on the Sandbank”

Amelia Peabody is a feminist Victorian archaeologist specialising in Egyptology.

Plakcy, Neil S.: Mahu Series, starting with “Mahu”

Gay erotica that’s also a cozy mystery series set in Hawaii. Originally recommended to me by a gay male friend.

Raybourn, Deanna: Veronica Speedwell Mysteries, starting with “A Curious Beginning”

Veronica is a sex-positive spinster lepidopterist (butterfly collector—in part because it lets her travel freely) who is thrown together with a cranky taxidermist. She is SUCH FUN. Great adventures in an alternate Victorian era. More details here.

Rodkey, Geoff: Chronicles of Egg, starting with “Chronicles of Egg: New Lands”

Fun kids’ adventure series with plenty of pirates. More details here.

*Sanderson, Brandon: Skyward series, starting with “Skyward”

Sanderson writes a lot of epic scifi, and very well. This series starts with a loner girl who is determined to become a pilot and join her society’s endless defensive war. The first books in his serieses tend to be small-scale, but major aspects of the world tend to be revealed along the way, getting extremely epic and often looking at what happens after a major political or social revolution.

Sharpe, Tess: “The Girls I’ve Been”

The heroine is an experienced con artist trying to deal with relationships and friendships and learning how to trust and be trustworthy. Then she and her ex-boyfriend and her girlfriend are all caught in a hostage situation and her skills are the only chance they have of getting out alive.

Springer, Nancy: Enola Holmes series, starting with “The Case of the Missing Marquess”

These Holmes-ian books (and the two movies, too) are a delightful adventure series with plenty of adventure and mystery-solving.

Stradling, Kate: “The Heir and the Spare”

Iona is the second-born, bullied both at home and in school abroad. So when her worst bully comes to propose a marriage alliance with her older sister, it seems like the perfect fate for two of the worst people in the world. But it’s not that simple.

Stroud, Jonathan: Lockwood and Co series, starting with “The Screaming Staircase”

Cozy horror. The banter in these books, and in the narrator’s voice, is incredibly funny. More details here.

Tait, A. L.: Mapmaker Chronicles, starting with “Race to the End of the World”

Quinn is chosen as a mapmaker for the king’s plan of a race around the world. There’s plenty of adventure, betrayal, and new wonders. Suitable for both kids and adults.

Taylor, Jodi: Chronicles of St Mary’s starting with “Just One Damned Things After Another” (and the Time Police spinoff series starting with “Doing Time”); “A Bachelor Establishment”; Frogmorton Farm series starting with “The Nothing Girl”; and “White Silence”

The “St Mary’s” series is an extremely funny series about rather hapless historians travelling through time. There are some really bad things that happen (LOTS of death and murder of named characters) and there are serious villains, plus sometimes they have to let historical people get raped because that’s how it happened in history (always off-screen). The main character is sometimes threatened but never sexually assaulted (I think she gets kissed and groped though and she has an incredibly gross stalker-type after her in the first book). Edit: As I reread the series I’m realising that there is loads of rape and attempted rape of the main character, but it’s described obliquely enough that I was able to deny it the first time through (eg she is caught and tortured by baddies and when rescued the first thing she does is put her clothes back on). She has also been sexually abused as a child I think. But overall she treats rape as just another acceptable risk in her line of work, and doesn’t seem to take major psychological damage. I like that—rape doesn’t define her any more than getting beaten up does. It’s unpleasant and scary, but she is going to be fine afterwards. There’s also a fair bit of mental health stuff (major gaslighting in Book 2), and she and her love interest/s have extremely big fights due in part to their respective traumas. And a disabled character deciding to die (which the main character disagrees with, but the book seems to agree with—the “if you’re not able-bodied you may as well just die” notion).

“Bachelor Establishment” is Austen-ish plus misadventure (with Isabella Barclay as a pen-name), and “Frogmorton Farm” also involves misadventure. And an invisible horse. And very much found family, including many eccentric animals. Probably too sickeningly sweet for some. If so, try “White Silence” which is a supernatural thriller. I haven’t read the sequel yet and I can’t remember the details at all.

Tesh, Emily: The Greenhollow duology, starting with “Silver in the Wood”

Tobias is a powerful magical being who lives a quiet life in the Greenhollow forest… until an annoyingly handsome and curious human man puts his peace—and the peace of his wood—at risk.

Thomas, Aiden: “Cemetery Boys”

Yadriel is trans and feels he must claim his Latinx family’s male-specific magic to be fully accepted. Then his cousin is suddenly killed, and Yadriel is determined to summon his ghost and solve the mystery of his death. But the wrong ghost appears.

Timberlake, Amy: “One Came Home”

This story is set in an extraordinary moment in North American history, when huge swarms of passenger pigeons settled in a relatively small area. It’s about one young girl’s missing sister, who may or may not be dead.

Townsend, Jessica: Nevermoor series, starting with “The Trials of Morrigan Crow”

Morrigan Crow is cursed to die on a certain day, but instead she is stolen away to face magical trials.

Uehashi, Nahoko: Moribito series, starting with “Guardian of the Spirit”

A tough bounty hunter is “volunteered” to look after a prince that several parties are trying to kill.

*Valente, Catherynne M.: Fairyland series starting with “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making”; “Space Opera”

The fairyland series is incredibly rich in detail and humour (almost too rich to handle, much like the deliciously overblown titles) and “Space Opera” is Eurovision in Space, with Earth’s fate on the line. In other news, Valente donated books to one of my refugee fundraisers, so I’d love her forever if I didn’t already.

Westerfeld, Scott: Leviathan series starting with “Leviathan”; Zeroes series starting with “Zeroes”

The “Leviathan” series is a steampunk-ish alternate history of the leadup to World War 1, with one side all about clanking mechanical tech, and the other all artificially evolved battle creatures. It is SO FUN and the illustrations alone are worth the price of admission. “Zeroes” (with several other great authors) is dark fantasy about a ragtag group of teens with super powers that are definitely not heroes.

Williams, Donna Glee “The Braided Path”; “Dreamers”

This is an interesting world, but above all a kind one. Of all my books, this is the kindest. There are no baddies and no bad decisions made by the heroes either. It’s just people figuring life out. Some of it is hard, but it is not unbearable. It is my #1 comfort read. “Dreamers” is also fundamentally kind, but there are several awful villains too.


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