Feeling Bookish: Sweet Fantasy Baby!

Written By

Ushasi Sen Basu

Feeling Bookish: Sweet Fantasy Baby! Loading

There’s a common perception of fantasy lovers as people who have refused to outgrow their childhoods and spend time frolicking among unicorns and fairies in their minds. While this is entirely true, my pet unicorn and I see absolutely no harm in any part of that sentence.

I am a die-hard fan of the fantasy genre or “magic” as some people disapprovingly term it. Here is a list — a mix of well-known books and hopefully some lesser known ones.

The obvious ones are the LOTR trilogy and the Harry Potter books and their offshoots, which really don’t need anything further written about them except that they’re awesome and deserve every bit of the adulation (viz. theme parks, merchandise, copy-cat books, costumes, maladjusted people who believe it’s all real) they continue to get. Game of Thrones was another that I’d become quite obsessed with, until RR Martin started spinning it out for as long and as many books that he could possibly muster. At one point I had bought the same book thrice because I was having trouble keeping track of all the different books he was publishing in the series. I lost a bit of respect for him after that. Let’s look at some of the others:

  1. The Bartimaeus Trilogy comprising The Amulet of Samarkand,The Golem’s EyePtolemy’s Gate, and the prequel The Ring of Solomon: This trilogy (and one prequel) is all about the wise-cracking genie Bartimaeus and his master Nathanial, and how they navigate the politics of magical London (the alternate history of which is given in interesting detail.). I really love it. It’s not Harry Potter, though on the surface there are similarities. It’s a different take on the class system, with magic haves and have-nots.
  2. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman comprising Northern Lights (1995), The Subtle Knife (1997), and The Amber Spyglass: Two children wander different universes with their alter ego daemons and encounter many adventures. There’s a lot of philosophy and science and theology in here but that’s why an adult can read the same book as his child and get something deeper out of it. Most literature in this genre has the same quality. Magic on the surface and a commentary on the human condition at a more subterranean level.
  3. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: Absolutely brilliant!
  4. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series: This sarcastic and completely mental body of books boasts different series contained within it, each with separate protagonists; but populating the same Discworld Universe. You MUST read at least a few of these books, if you haven’t already, you poor, poor sap.
  5. Christopher Paolini’s Eragon books: To think he wrote the first one when he was a mere 17 quite boggles the mind. Of course, this is deeply influenced by the LOTR, but why should I mind? He’s taken that universe and run with it.
  6. Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories: yes, I am aware that this is an allegory mostly pertaining to the Indian Subcontinent. “The Dull Lake”, etc; but the characters also occupy a world of fantasy, so I’m listing this here. “Luka and the lake of fire’ is a very poor sequel to what (when my Father bought it for me when I was around 10) I thought was simply magical.
  7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Exerts a hypnotic fascination.

Avoid like The Plague: Or at least like a bad case of the flu. The Twilight Series: Now, I admit — I am being ever so slightly hypocritical here because I bought and devoured all of the books, much like the vampires and werewolves that abound in it. But there is no doubt that this is trash of the first order. It is the “50 Shades of Grey” for underage fantasy lovers. Bad writing, bad plot, irritating characters and an inexplicably enormous fan following.

In honour of Valentine’s Day next week, Books of Luuuuurve! Watch this space!

Write to me with your own lists at contact@siyawoman.com!

Read Ushasi’s other booklists, Literature for the Troubled Soul and Should History Remain a Mystery, in this series!




Ushasi Sen Basu, 37, lives in Bangalore and is the erstwhile Editor-in-Chief of SiyaWoman.com. She published her debut contemporary literary fiction novel, 'Kathputli’ in early 2017, in both Kindle and paperback formats. Ushasi has been a professional writer and editor for over a decade. She also has an unpopular blog called The Crib that pokes fun at everything, including herself. Ushasi (aka Shashi, "U" and 'You-Over-There') loves literature and music, and dances like nobody’s watching. She is the mother of a five-year-old girl, who is the joy of her life and grudging guinea pig for many of her parenting experiments.

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