Once upon a time, I earned a Master's Degree in Literature and was a Professor of Literature and Composition. I had a wonderful time writing my Master's Thesis about Children's and Young Adult Literature, and I considered earning a Ph.D. so that I could continue to pursue the written word, including British, American, Latin American and other Global Literatures, Children's and Young Adult Literature, all types of genres and occasionally even poetry. But life takes you in unexpected directions, and so now I am working for a non-profit agency (you can read about that on my other blog, A Little Bit of Wonder). Although my job keeps me too busy to post as many book reviews as I would like, Recommended Reading is a place where I can continue to share my literary discoveries and knowledge as time allows.

Please note that I post reviews for books that I recommend reading, just like the blog title says. This means that I typically won't post a review for a book that I completely dislike. This isn't because I shy away from making negative comments, but rather because I don't want to waste your time or mine (I won't even bother to finish a book if it's not any good). For more on this, see the explanation of my Rating System.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reading Challenge and Contest: Focus on Fantasy

I’d like to issue a fairly open-ended reading challenge for myself and anyone who would like to join me: a focus on Fantasy Literature. I’ve been stock-piling both classic novels such as J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy and series such as Ursula LeGuin’s The Wizard of Earthsea for a little while now, and I’ve also been wanting to re-read some of my favorites, such as C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass). I’m eager to dive in and explore the very nature of Fantasy Literature – I’ve even got a copy of The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre by Tzvetan Todorov. Literary theory may not sound like a whole lot of fun to some of you, but I’m a literature geek at heart…

At any rate, I invite you to Focus on Fantasy with me for the next few months. This reading challenge has a couple of different aspects to it. First of all, I’d love for you to leave suggestions of Fantasy Literature that I should add to my reading list. What books make your top ten list of Fantasy novels? Who are your favorite authors? If someone is trying to become something of an expert on the genre, what must they absolutely read? (I probably won’t be able to take everyone’s suggestions, especially because I’m still going to be reading other novels besides Fantasy Literature, but I really want to hear everyone’s opinions.)

I also invite you to Focus on Fantasy with me in your own reading/reviewing/blogging. Email me (littlelaurenalise@gmail.com) links to the Fantasy Literature that you review between now and June, and you will be entered into my contest – and the important thing to note is: there are prizes involved! The best review of (any) Children’s/Middle Grade Fantasy novel will receive a copy of A Tale of Despereaux by Kate diCamillo, and the best review of (any) YA Fantasy novel will receive a copy of a novel that has yet to be determined. Your reviews will be judged primarily by their thoughtful discussion of theme(s) and how a novel fits in to the Fantasy genre. You don’t have to be an expert on the genre – just share what you know from your reading experience. Everyone is welcome to participate.

So, let’s have at it, shall we? First up is a review of S. Morgenstern’s The Princess Bride by William Goldman, coming later this week.

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