Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fantasy and Science Fiction Characters Reading

Last week L.E. Modesitt wrote a post about the lack of characters reading/writing books in fantasy and science fiction novels particularly. I just read his post yesterday, so I may be late to the discussion, but I just wanted to add my own comments. I think he's got a point there, however, maybe there are more than he might guess (his guess is about 5% of fantasy and science fiction books).

Here's what I've come up with:
  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    It's alleged to be the Red Book of Westmarch, which was written by Bilbo and Frodo particularly, but also including selections from Merry's work, Herblore of the Shire (IIRC, my Tolkien books are downstairs).
  2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Bilbo's account of his adventures.
  3. The Diana Tregarde novels by Mercedes Lackey
    Not so much for books mentioned in the series, but if my memory isn't playing tricks, the main character is a romance writer.
  4. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
    The book opens with Talia reading a book, and later in the book discusses the size of her father's library in contrast to the palace library.
  5. Dies The Fire by S. M. Stirling
    Numerous Tolkien references, and also as I noted in my first review, some references to Mercedes Lackey's books and other classic fantasy and science fiction. I'm not sure though if I really should be including this one in the list as I can't recall if there's actually anyone ever reading the books in the story - as you can see, it's been a while since I've read it.
  6. Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon
    There is one amusing scene in this book where one of the characters phones another one to ask her to do something, saying that she's sure said character is only reading the latest Kinley MacGregor novel - which she is. Where it gets amusing is that Kinley MacGregor is the other name that Sherrilyn Kenyon writes under.
  7. Time Enough For Love by Robert Heinlein
    Quite a few references to characters reading and even to specific books such as the Oz series.
  8. The Adept series by Katherine Kurtz
    I've forgotten just which book has the reference to The Temple And The Lodge - might be the third one, The Templar Treasure - but that's only one of several book references in the series.
  9. In Her Name: Empire by Michael R. Hicks
    There are a couple of scenes where Reza, the main character is discussing the benefits of reading - clearly he's a lover of books.
  10. Two Crowns For America by Katherine Kurtz
    If I'm not mistaken, there's a scene in this one where one of the characters falls asleep while reading.
  11. The Harry Potter series
    I've been reminded about the numerous references to books and reading in this series.
  12. The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
    Mercedes Lackey seems to write a lot of characters that love books, either reading or writing them. I wouldn't mind the library described in this book - but then you could say the same thing about Adam Sinclair's library in the Adept series by Katherine Kurtz.
  13. Exile's Honor and Exile's Valor by Mercedes Lackey
    One of the secondary characters in these two is the Herald-Chronicler Myste. While the chronicles are mentioned in some of the other books, this is the first time we see the one of the Heralds filling the position. There are a couple of reading scenes in these two books as well if my memory isn't playing tricks
  14. The Blood series by Tanya Huff
    Again, if my memory's not playing tricks, one of the main characters is an author.
  15. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
    It's been a while, but I seem to recall that the opening scenes of this book are set in a library. A series of books for kids, but overall a very good read and ties in well with her other two books in the same world: Book of Night With Moon and To Visit The Queen.
  16. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
    I'm not quite sure if the Outlander series counts as fantasy, however there is time travel in the series, as well as a ghost showing up in one scene. If it does count, you can add at least two more scenes where Jamie Fraiser is found reading - and that's just in the first two hundred or so pages of the book.
  17. Some of the Pern books by Anne McCaffrey
    Although the primary form of teaching and entertainment is through songs, there are still quite a few mentions of reading and writing - if not books, then at least music and song lyrics. Especially true of both Dragonsong and Dragonsinger IIRC - scoring music, copying lyrics and record-hides. The rediscovery of paper comes to mind as well. 
  18. The Bardic Voices books by Mercedes Lackey
    Tal Rufen in Four and Twenty Blackbirds is an avid reader, as are some of the other characters. Some of the characters in the other books are also literate, although their reading tastes seem to run more to sheet music.
  19. Books by Jordan Hawk*
  20. K. J. Charles' books*
  21. Books by Jordan Castillo Price - mentions of Stephen King's books*
  22. Barbara Hambly's books*
    The Magpie Mind books in particular, but also others.
  23. Anne Bishop's Others series*
  24. The Temeraire books by Naomi Novik*
    Dragons reading or being read to.
  25. The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey
    IIRC, there's a scene in there with Skandrannon, the title character, reading. I remember a comment about his being able to see the indentations of the pen strokes or something like that.
  26. The Soulwood series by Faith Hunter*
    Characters reading banned books.
  27. On Basilisk Station by David Weber*
    Honor Harrington can be found reading Horatio Hornblower. And other scenes where she has to interrupt her reading time.
  28. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
    Both Rand and Tam are readers - there's a shelf of books in their home, there's another shelf of books to be found in the Two Rivers inn, and there's also a brief mention of the scarcity of books.
  29. Exile's Song by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    There's a few references to explicitly lay out the fact that Darkover is mostly a pre-literate society, but about half-way through we find Margaret Alton in a small library (about 40 books), looking for something to read - as well as some space to collect her thoughts. Some musings on subject matter and reading tastes too.
Has anyone else got any titles they could add to this list?

Entries marked with an asterisk* have been contributed by others. In particular I've got to thank the Mercedes Lackey group on Facebook.

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