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Books TitleI've been a lifelong avid reader. I have the very strong glasses prescription to prove it. While I sample other genres, the types of books that most often appeal to me are fantasy, science fiction, and novels written for children. I used to be a little shy about admitting the latter, but in these days of Harry Potter madness, it no longer seems so odd.

In the late nineties I joined a children's literature forum on Compuserve, and after much discussion of children's novels there, I put together a reading guide, which you can access in the sidebar. It's a 40-plus page PDF document that you can read online with Adobe Acrobat, or download. This version has been updated to include more recent books. If you have any favorites I've not included, I'd enjoy hearing about them. I'll try some when I have time, and perhaps they'll make it into later versions of the guide. You can email me with your suggestions using the CONTACT tab above.

Here are a few (and it was hard to narrow it down this far) of my favorite books and authors that you'll find in the list. If I absolutely had to pick one above all, I guess it would have to be this first one.

The Hobbit cover

©J.R.R. Tolkien Estate

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe cover

©The Macmillan Company

The Princess and the Goblin cover

©The David McKay Company

Five Children and It cover

©Ernest Benn Ltd.

Half Magic cover

©Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc.

Swallows and Amazons title page

©Arthur Ransome Estate

Tom's Midnight Garden cover

©Oxford University Press

Of course I also enjoy many books not written for children as well. Here are a few favorites that made strong impressions on me.

The Fellowship of the Ring cover

©J.R.R. Tolkien Estate

As above, if I had to pick one favorite adult book above all, it would be The Lord of the Rings, which I first encountered in this pirated paperback edition, at least the initial volume. I finished reading it for the first time on a sunny day in September, that was made darker for me by the horrible fall of Gandalf. I was desperate to read the rest, but had heard that paperbacks authorized by Tolkien would soon be published by Ballantine, and I decided to wait for them. Then I saw the hardcover edition of The Two Towers in a local bookshop, with its cool map, and really wanted THAT one. My parents agreed to get it for me for Christmas. So, it was months before I found out what happened next. Imagine any kid putting up with that these days...

Stranger in a Strange Land cover

©Robert A. Heinlein

Right behind Tolkien, my second favorite author is Heinlein, and this book of his really blew my mind when I first read it in my teen years. I had already devoured most of his other books, and still reread them fairly often.

Nine Princes in Amber cover

©Roger Zelazny

I used to read a lot of science fiction magazines, a great way then to discover up and coming authors. Zelazny was one that I enjoyed from the beginning, and I avidly sought out his novels as they were published. Lord of Light certainly made an impression, but it was this one that I loved the best, and I still think it's one of the finest uses of the alternate world concept ever.

Time and Again cover

©Jack Finney

I discovered this book in the late 1970s, and it quickly became a favorite, and perhaps the book that I've most often given to others to read. It really has everything: a terrific time-travel framework, an amazingly well-researched exploration of New York City in the 1880s, a thrilling adventure story, a great love story. If you haven't tried it, you should!

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All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.

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