Sunday Coffee – Recommendations?

Two Sundays ago, I talked about bookish slump I’m kinda in. But I realized since then, there are some books and other things that are holding my attention. They’re (for the most part) stuff I don’t have as much experience with, so I’m asking for recommendations today!

TED Talks
My cousin’s wife sent me a TED talk on the first day of the year. It was only the second one I’d ever watched (I think?), and I fell in love. Since then I’ll been grabbing talks at random when I have time to watch them, usually from their Facebook page. But honestly, I don’t know how to find them more efficiently. I don’t do podcasts and I don’t want to subscribe to a service that will send me dozens of links/videos per day. I don’t know if there’s an easier way to do that, so mostly I’m asking for recommendations for specific videos. Do you know an excellent TED talk? Leave me a link in the comments!

Chunkster Fantasies
Despite my love of Brandon Sanderson, I’m really not well-versed on long epic fantasies. I’ve tried a few and quit (Wheel of Time, Game of Thrones) and I’ve recently been craving these longer complex books. However, the last one I tried to find for myself ended up feeling like a derivative of Sanderson and the Wheel of Time, and I quit halfway into the first book. I like fantasies that spend more time on character and limitations than on cool special effects magic, and I’ve had a hard time finding something with a good balance of worldbuilding, story, character, and good writing. Suggestions?

Cultural Exploration
I recently read the first few chapters of a book that will release in March (Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Edeyemi). It’s set in a fantasy version of West Africa, steeped in a combination of real-world culture and the speculative worldbuilding. Those chapters were phenomenal and I can’t wait for the full book to release. One of main selling points for me was that blend of culture and fantasy. I’ve said it before – I get so tired of magical books set in London! Give me magic from around the world, culture from around the world. Let me read a fantasy set in Indonesia or Paraguay or Zambia. Right now, I’m very interested in reading about non-American, non-European cultures, whether in the fantasy genre or not. So if you know some good ones, please leave your recommendations below!

Nonfiction
Consider the Fork was definitely the best book I read this January, and I had none of my lack-of-focus problems while listening to that audiobook. Between that and the TED Talk obsession, I kinda think my focus is now going to be mostly on nonfiction for awhile. I’m not normally a huge nonfiction person but every once in awhile, I go on a kick. Problem is, because I’m not really a nonfiction person, I don’t know a lot of what’s out there. Second problem is, I’m super picky! I avoid politics, government, and war stuff, as well as memoirs, and I prefer nonfiction steeped in culture, sociology, psychology, or micro-histories. Because I’m so picky, it’s possible that only one in ten suggestions will end up working for me, so if you’re a big nonfic reader, go to town here! Leave me a list of dozens, haha!

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About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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14 Responses to Sunday Coffee – Recommendations?

  1. Word Lily says:

    Hmm, Have you tried Leigh Bardugo? Set more Russia-ish, fantasy with some good world building, good characterization, great plotting and stories …

    I love good books set in African and Asian countries, too, that really engage those cultures. They aren’t all that easy to find, though …

    Not fantasy, but: Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series (& Sherlock Holmes) frequently engages other places. They actually don’t live in London in the series, and they travel to many exotic places where various books are set (and deeply anchored). These are so very well written.

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    • Amanda says:

      I adore Leigh Bardugo! I’m not sure about the Sherlock series though – I dislike the original Sherlock and so many recreations try to mimic his personality. Are these like that?

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      • Word Lily says:

        These have Sherlock in them, but it’s after he’s retired so he’s mellowed somewhat. It would probably depend what about him you dislike. There’s definite character development throughout the series, and in addition to giving him a woman as a student/sidekick, it fleshes out and gives backstories to side characters from the original series that were never really developed. The author wrote a series of police procedurals, too, that I just finished and enjoyed, although I found it inferior to the Mary Russell series (I’m fascinated by Holmes and all the iterations, though, which probably plays into that, though), if you wanted to try her style: That series starts with A Grave Talent.

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      • Amanda says:

        I might give it a try – see if Sherlock is as arrogant and self-assured and cold as he normally appears. šŸ™‚

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  2. I can’t help you with the TED talks, but I’ll ask my wife she might know of a few…as for chunkster fantasies, one that I enjoyed years ago was The Otherland series by Tad Williams. It is a combination of fantasy and science fiction. He does have other more fantasy-based series that are chunksters too, although I haven’t tried them. And right now I’m reading The Lord of the Rings, the original chunkster fantasy.

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    • Amanda says:

      I’ll look up Tad Williams. I’ve never tried anything by him. Sadly, Tolkien hasn’t worked for me in the past. It’s really too bad since just about everyone else in my family loves his work.

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  3. I also don’t do podcasts or TED Talks, but I LOVE Brittany Gibbons, so I’ve watched hers. Great for body positivity.

    http://brittanyherself.com/2011/11/20/my-2011-ted-talk/

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  4. Karen K. says:

    I was going to recommend Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell but you’ve read it already! I was also thinking about Outlander, but it’s really more historical than fantasy. There’s also a series called Gormenghast that’s a sort of classic fantasy, though I haven’t read it. I know many people love it. It’s described on Goodreads as “lush, fantastical and vivid, like living in a dream.” Also heard good things about The Golem and the Jinni.

    I also loved The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier, one of my favorite reads from last year. I downloaded the audio from the library.

    Let us know what you decide!

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    • Amanda says:

      I’ll add to the good things said about The Golem and the Jinni. It’s excellent! I have the audio copy now too, and one of these days I’m going to revisit that way. I’ll look up Gormenghast though I’m not sure classics are going to work for my brain right now. I tried reading Earth by Zola earlier this month and my brain-meld just said nope, too complicated right now! I set it aside for when I’m in the right mindset for it.

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  5. Michelle says:

    I got nothing. Unfortunately. Although…you should look at The Prey of Gods. Set in South Africa, fantasy elements. It is bonkers but I loved every minute of it!

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  6. Cherilyn says:

    I know this is an older post, but if you are still looking for the chunkster fantasy….Roger Zelasny, The Chronicles of Amber was awesome for character development and world building. Someone else mentioned Tad Williams Otherland series, I put in a nod for that one as well. You said you didn’t have much luck with Tolkien; have you ever tried Dennis L. McKiernan? He was a Tolkien fan and had a series called the Iron Tower Trilogy; it was reminiscent of LOTR, but the language was more audience-friendly. Warning about that trilogy though; don’t buy them one at a time; buy them all at once, the first two end like a television show cliffhanger.

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