Readers Advisory: Fantasy Reads for Book Clubs (and for reluctant Fantasy readers)

Finding one shot fantasy titles, or fantasy titles with more universal appeal is much harder to accomplish than a traditional readers advisory (or even a Science Fiction Book club pick), because Fantasy tends to serialize, and depend on the continuation of the series to get enjoyment out of it.  To develop this list, I looked through my Goodreads, specifically looking at my “Fantasy” shelf, and came up with a few options that might fit the bill.

enchantmentEnchantment by Orson Scott Card

One shot fantasy title from a primarily sci-fi writer delves into a little magical time travel, and is a new twist on a fairy tale. I really like it, and the transition from the real world to fantasy may help bring over some reluctant fantasy-readers.

night circusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This popular fantasy title deals with two magicians who vow to train and set their students against one another in a battle of magical will, that comes into fruition with the creation of a circus that defies reality. Vivid imagery, but the characters are a little underdeveloped. It’s a popular book club title, and it surprised me that it didn’t get more press when it came out.

I actually initially read this one because it was a suggestion for my book club!

stardustStardust by Neil Gaiman

There are many titles that are good fits by Gaiman, and I find that his fantasy (while not my favorite) is very successful as stand-alone. Many non-fantasy readers enjoy his books. Stardust is my favorite of his titles, and also has a fantastic film adaption (caught the hearts of many).

giftofmagicA Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan

This is an old favorite of mine, and focuses more on ESP and the supernatural then directly hitting the fantasy genre, but it’s short and has a lot of discussion points. This book is technically also considered YA, and deals with a young girl who has always been special, with abilities that are just accepted by her family. In this story, she realizes how she got those gifts, how they affect her life, and what she can do with them.

If you’re looking for traditional fantasy, there are some titles that come to mind, but traditional fantasy tends to turn off non-fantasy readers. Some of these were recommended school titles (which means plenty of discussion) and some are classics. You’d have to look at them and decide whether they would throw off readers.

blue swordThe Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

I read this as a title in high school, and it has a typical high-fantasy feel. The first book in the series  (which was published after this one) is also a good choice.  It focuses on a female character who must match the strength of men to overcome stereotypes and take control of her own destiny.

dragonflightDragonflight (Pern #1) by Anne McCaffrey

This book chronicles the story of the planet Pern, dragons have fallen out of favor– as well as their riders, but the deadly “Thread” is coming again to wipe out life on the continent. Its up to the current queen dragon rider to solve the problem and save the planet. Good standalone that leads into a series.

hobbitThe Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe)by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit kind of speaks for itself, as a classic fantasy. And with all of the hype for the films, it may be easier to pull a reluctant fantasy reader into it.

So, that’s my bit, and I hope its useful to someone, either a reluctant fantasy readers, as an introduction into some fantasy that has good discussion points– and that stand alone. Keep an eye out for other recommendations, such as an Urban/Modern fantasy readers advisory (my specialty), dystopian… disturbing novels…

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