Top Ten Tuesday: Things On My Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a great meme created by Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish that combines top ten lists and books. She’s come up with a great list of weekly discussion topics and I hope you’ll join in the discussion by commenting on this post or some of the other ones (you can find the list of participating blogs in this week's Top Ten Tuesday Post on her site).

This week’s topic is Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist (things I wish more authors wrote about).

I do not have any trouble finding books. There are a lot of books in the world. A lot of really good books. So, this topic was a little hard for me this week, or, at least, I thought it was until I sat down and started writing. Then I realized I seem to have a reservoir of unfulfilled longing within me that I was unaware of :-) Despite that, though, I was only able to come up with eight items for my list this week.
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1. Literary Fantasy and Science Fiction
These are books that are mainly literary fiction with touches of fantasy or science fiction—books like The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka, Machine by Jennifer Pelland, and Peony in Love by Lisa See. I LOVE this genre—I think it’s probably my favorite—and there are just too few books that are lyrical, beautiful, moving, and speak to the truths of humanity, all within a fantasy or science fiction framework. This is what I aspire to write, though I’m not sure I achieve it, and I would love to see more books like this

2. Talking Animals
I don’t care what anyone says, talking animals NEVER get old. And I’m not talking just cute sidekicks who happen to be animals who can also talk (such as Donkey and Puss ‘N Boots in Shrek or the animals in Doctor Doolittle). I mean sentient life forms, with fully developed societies, who also happen to be animals—like the inhabitants of Narnia, the mice and rats in The Secret of NIMH, the Panserbjorne (armored polar bears) and the Mulefa in the His Dark Materials trilogy, and the Runa in The Sparrow.

3. Fantasy Worlds That Aren’t Medieval England
Many of my writer friends and I have been discussing the dearth of innovative and ground-breaking epic fantasy, which seems to be stalled in Tolkien-imitation. Where are the fantasy worlds that model feudal Japan or use Chinese or Turkish or Hebrew mythology? I want to see those stories!

4. Fantasy Stories That Don’t Feature Elves, Werewolves, Angels, or Vampires
Similar to #3 above, judging from bookstore shelves, it seems like there’s only a handful of mythological/fantasy creatures out there. Not true. I just learned, from the Tournament of Roses Parade that Chinese mythology contains a winged horse similar to Pegasus. How come I’ve never seen any stories with that thing in them? Where are the stories with Rui Shi, Engkanto, Shtriga (you’re going to go look those up now, aren’t you? :-)). There’s a gazillion lesser known mythological creatures—so why does everything seem to be Tolkien elves, vampires, and angels? Urban fantasy in particular seems to be stuck in a rut and I’d love to see some branching out.

5. Foreign Translations
I suspect that #3 and #4 are happening—just not in books that are being translated to English and sold in America. I strongly suspect that there is a lot of amazing fantasy and science fiction being written by authors in other countries and those books just aren’t making it outside of those countries. I would really like to see some sort of affordable “self-publishing” equivalent for book translation services and I’d like to see what’s going on, writing-wise, in other countries and languages.

6. GOOD Romance
Romance is such an iffy genre for me. Alpha males do not turn me on. They make me want to kick them in the crotch—I do not want to be talked down to, man-handled, barked at, condescended to, ignored, treated like I’m an idiot, forced into a position of dubious consent, or otherwise demeaned just because my reproductive organs are on the inside. Not sexy. Insta-love is not romantic. Lady brain turned to mush because a guy is just so dreamy—especially when the woman knows the guy is bad or she doesn’t agree with his ethics, manners, etc.—also not romantic. Stupid “insurmountable obstacles” to happiness that are caused by stupid misunderstandings (easily cleared up with a simple phone call) are just rage-inducing. I want smart, sexy stories with depth and substance, fully-fledged characters, and yearning that makes it impossible to put the book down. Where is The Thornbirds for my generation?

7. Asian Stories
I love and am fascinated by Asian mythology and history. Lisa See, Ang Lee, and Amy Tan are some of my favorite authors. In fact, I don’t know of too many other authors writing stories set in China and/or drawing on Chinese mythology (?). Memoirs of a Geisha, Cloud of Sparrows, and The Teahouse Fire are also favorite novels, all set in Japan. I’d love to see more non-fantasy stories like this, set in ancient China, feudal Japan, and/or drawing on Asian mythology and culture.

8. Non Mustache-Twirling Villains
I’d like to see more complex fantasy stories, like Game of Thrones, that leave the “Hero’s Quest” structure in the dust. That is, a story where there are no clear “good guys” and “bad guys,” where there is no nefarious villain/tyrant/evil mage who must be destroyed, but instead, there are simply two sides to a situation, each of which has merits and that we, the reader, can sympathize with.

And there you have it—my reading wishlist. What is yours? Share it in the comments below!

And remember—support bloggers. If you read it, comment on it! :-)

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TERRI BRUCE writes science fiction and fantasy stories with a literary bent from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats. Look for her contemporary fantasy Hereafter (Afterlife #1) - now available wherever books are sold.

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