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  • Writer's picturemelindabrasher

Favorite Fantasy from College and Beyond



Okay, yes, I'm dating myself here. One summer between university semesters, I worked at a day camp for kids. We had board games. We had sports equipment. We had art supplies. We had video games. Yet so many kids were sitting around with theirs heads in a book so thick it looked like War and Peace. I thought, "WHAT is this book that's getting kids hooked on reading again???" Well, apparently I had been in the college cave too long. I hadn't really been part of the Harry Potter craze. I hadn't even heard much about it. And here were these kids, reading the massive book four with delightful intensity. I put the first three books on hold at the library and read them all in a weekend. I never read three books in one weekend. I was hooked, like those kids.


Later, working at a libraries and teaching abroad with other fantasy fans willing to exchange books, I read a bunch of middle grade and YA fantasy, some new, some old. I continue to enjoy middle grade and YA fantasy even more than adult fantasy, perhaps because it tends to be less gritty, more hopeful, sometimes more whimsical, less sexually and violently explicit, and usually blended with coming-of-age elements, which I like.


Here are some of the standout fantasy novels (for all ages) from my college years to the present.



Harry Potter—J.K. Rowling (all seven are great, though I think the first few are the most charming)

A Spell for Chameleon (and other Xanth novels)—Piers Anthony

The Eyes of the Dragon—Stephen King (fantasy, not horror)

Ella Enchanted—Gail Carson Levine (WAYYYYY better than the movie)

A Series of Unfortunate Events--Lemony Snicket

The Seer and the Sword—Victoria Hanley

Fall of a Kingdom (and the entire fantastic and highly underrated Farsala trilogy)—Hilari Bell

A Game of Thrones—George R.R. Martin

Small Gods (and other Discworld novels)—Terry Pratchett

Graceling (And Fire and Bitterblue)—Kristin Cashore

The Seventh Friend—Tim Stead

A Monster Calls--Patrick Ness (Maybe not exactly fantasy)

Book of Dragons—Edith Nesbit

Wildings--Eleanor Glewwe

My Lady Jane—Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton

Long My She Reign—Rhiannon Thomas (Not really fantasy, but that wonderful and rare genre that feels like fantasy but without any magic or supernatural anything)

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