If You Like….
Today’s guest If You Like is from Kari P, who takes us to a genre far, far away to explore the wonderful world of Sci Fi, Fantasy and Paranormal…. Are you ready for magic, witches and wizards, oh my?
If You Like…Semi-Nerd Books or Nerd “Lite”
As a child I loved Star Trek. This is a fact I have been trying to hide ever since I realized throwing up a certain Vulcan hand gesture on the playground didn’t earn the respect I anticipated. After many years of trying to downgrade just how nerdy I am I decided to embrace it. I love Star Trek, maybe you don’t like to get that Sci-Fi, so I present to you a list of books I consider “Sci-Fi or Nerd Lite.” Just a small dose of the paranormal in your reading!
Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling)- My gateway drug. Look friends this is the book that brought me back to the light. Oh, I tried to resist, but is was futile. I loved every second of all these books. If you have never read them, do. The world that JK Rowling has invented in just incredible, not to mention a wonderful story line. Don’t just watch the movies, take the time and read the series, it will make you regret not getting your letter from Hogwarts.
The Southern Vampire Mysteries (Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris)- These books are also affectionately called True Blood, but please don’t judge a book by its TV show. A small town cocktail waitress has a secret, she can read minds. Vampires have come out in the open due to a Japanese invention of synthetic blood. Sookie is drawn to Bill, the first vampire she has ever met. Someone in town is killing people who associate with Vamps. This book is part mystery, part romance, and part Sci-Fi.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness- Holy Awesome, Batman! For me this book rolled a lot of my favorite Sci-Fi into one. Vampires, demons, romance, oh my! A witch doesn’t know she is a witch, falls for a Vamp who she is unsure if she can trust, etc, etc. The second book in the series has time travel as well. I stalk DH’s webpage like every other day looking for info on the third and final book.
Game of Thrones by George RR Martin- Okay, so if you have seen these books you know they are not physically Sci-Fi lite; but enjoyable they are. Firstly the world Martin has created is incredible. Just the scope of it is insanity. Secondly, George ain’t scared to kill off characters so don’t get too attached to anyone. If the size of these tomes intimidates you, the HBO series with the same name does the books justice. They actually follow the books really well.
Percy Jackson and the Last of the Olympians by Rick Riordan- Again, please don’t judge a book by its movie. This book series was written for middle school audiences but I enjoyed them just the same! A modern day young man finds out that his father is Poseidon, the Greek god, bad stuff ensues. Like Harry Potter, I really enjoyed the world within our world storyline.
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry- what Sci-Fi list would be complete without a little zombie action, huh? This book is set in a zombie apocalypse future. A kid has to take a job as a zombie killer in the family tradition. I don’t always love the zombie action but this one was really entertaining.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot- I wanted to throw this non-fiction in even though it isn’t technically Sci-Fi. HeLa cells are used in just about every science related experiment there is. This is the story behind HeLa (Henrietta Lacks). Her cells forever shaped science. This book was challenging for me due to some personal history of cancer in my family, but overall super interesting.
Thanks so much, Kari! For me, I’d have to add Bee Ridgway’s time jumping The River of No Return, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate, and a dual dose of Lois McMaster Bujold, with her Chalion books on the Game of Thrones-ish fantasy side and her Vorkosigan Saga on the Sci Fi side. There’s also Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, although that might be a little more Sci Fi and a little less Lite.
What are your favorite “Nerd Lite” novels?
It always shocks people to find out I was a TNG fan as a kid!
I wish I had gotten into Harry Potter sooner. I remember back in 2000 when my little cousin was telling me about this book she was reading and she was SO into it. I had no idea what she was talking about but I thought it was adorable that she was so excited by it. A year later, I realized, when the movies started coming out, that it was Harry Potter. My roommate had the first two books so I read them and got hooked.
I’m a huge sucker for time travel, and now time slips. My favorites include The Time Traveler’s Wife, all of Susanna Kearsley’s books, and the early Outlander books (not such a fan of the later ones).
And the Discovery of Witches series is phenomenal.
I think Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore would fit well into this category. Lots of magical computer stuff going on, and the characters are pretty nerdy themselves, as they try to solve codes and visit a mysterious underground library in NYC.
This book is just one of the best I’ve read all year. I’m so happy to see it mentioned.
I love Susanna Kearsley’s books, but I would never have thought to label them “Paranormal.” Imagine my surprise with Susanna asked her readers to weigh in on what RITA category “The Firebird” fits into, and “Paranormal Romance” was one of the options. I obviously need to be more careful about writing off books because I don’t think I like their genre.
One of my favorites is a little-known novel entitled Thieves by Robert Crawson. It is a time-travel fantasy of epic proportions. A disgruntled priest takes a job as a college professor and the story begins as a romance but the priest befriends a brilliant professor of astro-physics who is experimenting with a time machine in the basement of his home. He gradually trusts the priest and draws him into his confidence. The author’s handling of the transition from romance to paranormal time-travel is simply fantastic. The ending is mind-blowing in the extreme and I’ll not reveal anything else for fear of spoilers.
I have also heard Discovery of Witches is such an amazing read that I’ve yet to hear a single disparaging comment about it. It is on my must-read stack.
I don’t mean to hog the discussion but I just remembered two more that fit into this genre, both by author Mary Chase Comstock. High Spirits at Harroweby is a regency romance but one of the major characters is the ghost and great grandmother of two of the heroines and must help them solve a great family mystery. The other is A Midsummer’s Magic which is also a regency romance that features witchcraft and wizardry and makes many references to the Bard’s own A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Both get very high marks on reader’s reviews, wherever they are featured and both are full of equal doses of mystery and humor. I’ve read so many books that were recommended here and likewise want to share these.
Love Percy Jackson (House of Hades is out tomorrow!) and love Harry Potter and world (new movies in world soon!), but another great series is The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose. People remembering past lives, murder and supense in present and past lives, a little romance, it has it all! And there are 5 books so far
What a great list!!! I love almost all of the books you have included. I recommend them to people all the time. Thanks!!
Oh I am still so much in love with the Harry Potter books! I started reading them when I was 11 and now that I’m 24 I still can’t get enough of it!
This book list sounds great, it looks like I got some book reserving to do at the library. I am also into M.J. Rose, I liked The Book of Lost Fragrances.
Connie Willis’ “To Say Nothing of the Dog” is a fun time travel trip. All of hers are great. Another is “Passage”, which isn’t a “fun” read, but very good.
Yeah, I was about to say that this list is almost invalid without Connie Willis! ;-D
For her time travel series, To Say Nothing is funny and great, but Doomsday Book is currently my favorite novel of hers (both of these almost read as historical fiction, btw). I also like Bellwether, Uncharted Territory, and Inside Job.
*cough* Why no Terry Pratchett/Discworld, Keri P/Lauren? If you like humorous fantasy, it’s a must-read, IMO. Also, most of the TV adaptations have been delightful.
One of my fav ‘nerd lite’ series is the Laws of Magic books by Michael Pryor. They are a bit alternate-universe (think England/Europe – same geography, diff names), a bit historical (think Edwardian England), and a bit fantasy – some people (like the hero) have an aptitude for magic, which is treated academically like a form of science. The hero is likeable, the ‘heroine’ is kick-ass (literally!) with lots of intrigue between nations as the bad guy tries to initiate wide-scale war. It is like looking at the lead-up to World War One, through a alternate-universe lens. Lots of fun, can’t recommend highly enough. The fact that the author lives in my city is just icing on the cake!
I read the entire Southern Vampire series in about a month this spring. I’ve been working on watching True Blood ever since I finished. I’m up to Season 5. I like the books better but it’s fun to see the different twists they gave it in the HBO series. My only complaint there is that the sex is way over the top in the show.
We are also huge Percy Jackson fans at my house. We love the books and the movies. My oldest has never been interested in Harry Potter and my youngest lost interest when we started reading the 3rd one. I finished book 3 of Harry and I will read them all at some point but we are definitely more Camp HalfBlood fans vs. Hogwarts fans.
Rot and Ruin – I haven’t read those but my 15 yo son loved them.
Other books that I think fit in this category – Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books. Alternate history, time travel, literary detectives, crimes that take place inside of books, extinct animals…it’s very difficult to put it in a genre. Start with The Eyre Affair.