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Non-Fantasy and non-sci-fi books

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Trick, Aug 5, 2015.

  1. Trick

    Trick Auror

    I was going to post this elsewhere but after considering, it is a writing question with my intent in mind.

    I pretty much just read Fantasy... I know! That's bad. I need to read outside my genre. I have a few times in the past couple years but rarely.

    So, I'm looking for suggestions of non-fantasy fiction that is both awesome and currently (or recently) kicking ass in sales. When I say awesome, I mean from a writer's perspective. I want to learn from them both in craft and the current market.

    So, I implore you fellow scribes, list some books/authors that you think I should read outside my beloved genre so that I can become a better writer.



    I might add, I usually listen to audio books exclusively so any particularly well-performed books would be especially great.

    EDIT 2:

    The only things that I personally have no interest in reading are non-fiction, fan-fic (unless it's AWESOME), erotica and offensive subject matter (I interpret "offensive" as including racism/sexism, of any kind, unnecessary gore/violence/depravity etc.). But I definitely love dark themes, just no writer self-gratification.

    Thanks again!
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  2. Russ

    Russ Istar

    Steve Berry and Lee Child spring instantly to mind. So does Peter James. I could name a heap more successful and skilled thriller writers, but they would be a very good start.

    And you can't argue with their sales.
    Trick likes this.
  3. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    Does horror count? Stephen King's okay, but for me Dean R Koontz rules there.

    Cheers, Greg.
    Trick likes this.
  4. Trick

    Trick Auror

    I just picked up Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes. I'm not actually a horror person but when I found out he'd written a thriller, I figured I'd try it out. I will read (listen to) it soon. Dean Koontz has a home near where I live. I used to work at the RV and Storage facility where he kept his boat. Never got to meet him though :(

    He doesn't only write horror right? Doesn't he do thrillers too?
  5. evolution_rex

    evolution_rex Inkling

    The last fiction book I read that wasn't fantasy or science fiction was Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley. It was a funny satire novel and a nice quick read. I think if you're a believer in UFOs, you might not appreciate the humor, but other than that I'd recommend it.
    Trick likes this.
  6. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

    I can't think of anyone recent, but Lovecraft has always been a favorite of mine :D
  7. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    I'm not sure these books were best sellers, but they are held in high regard.

    Disgrace - It won the Nobel Prize in literature. It's a book that I didn't completely get at first, but when I finally realized its message, I gained a greater understanding of post-apartheid South Africa.

    Death of an Ancient King - Simple prose. Simply told. Powerful story and emotions.

    Photocopies short story collection - they're not really short stories, more like slices of memory and life. But it's a great example of how to create mood and emotion and setting with simple prose.

    I'd also recommend No Country for Old Men. It's similar to Disgrace in that it conveys a message and idea, and once you understand it, you gain an greater understanding of violence in our world.
    Trick likes this.
  8. Terry Greer

    Terry Greer Sage

    I'd recommend:

    James Clavell's Shogun - An english pilot survives a shipwreck on the coast of Japan in 1600 - and how he adapts to the society and the his involvement with the power struggles for control of Japan while the Portuguese via jesuits also vie for complete trade domination. It is great stuff. I read it as more or less as a 'first contact' novel and its outstanding. There is a rather dated TV series created for it back in the 80's - good acting and it still stands up - but avoid the 2hour chopped down film version as so much is left out it becomes confusing bollocks.

    Ken Follet's 'Pillars of the Earth' and it's sequel 'World without End' The first is a generation long one about the building f a cathedral - and it's superb. The second is a few decades later in the same town following the descendents of the first book during the Black death. both are excellent. (They were made into TV series and the first is good - but the sequel's version is appalling)

    Bernard Cornwall's Saxon Series set in 9th/10th century britain around the time of King Alfred (currently being made into a TV series by the BBC)
    Trick likes this.
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I recommend reading.

    Seriously. Leave the audiobooks for your own entertainment. But if you want to study writing, read. That's the way most of your audience will encounter your works. That's the ear training you want to cultivate.

    In fact, and I know this may sound silly, when you read something you really like, write it out. Yes, copy it. Get the feel for how those sentences flow, how the dialog snaps, the rhythm between description and action. But most of all, read.
  10. Trick

    Trick Auror

    I don't have time for much traditional reading, unfortunately. I used to but I work more than full time, I have a wife and kids, am attending full time classes (starting up again in a couple weeks) and am remodeling my house. Whenever I can, I get the Whispersync bundle which is both the E-book and the audio. Since it keeps them synced, I can stop listening and start reading at any time. That is where part of my study comes in. But most of the time, I'm listening while putting in flooring or doing CAD drawings at work.

    I'm an audio learner. Never took a single note in high school except when forced and I did worse in those classes than any others. I usually speak, under my breath, the words I write in my WIP as I write them. Can't help it, it's how I work.


    I'll add, I have had to drop watching movies/TV. Playing video games went out the window two years ago. I use my spare time for reading/listening and writing only. I simply can't do any more. It's a darn good thing that I'm an avid Indoorsman[SUP]©[/SUP].
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  11. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    Read Bernard Cornwell! He writes historical fiction centered on England, more or less, and is an excellent read, if you ask me.
    Trick likes this.
  12. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    I don't know how well it sold, but Whirligig at least did well enough to get an audiobook. I think it's a book that fantasy writers could learn from, both because of the strange, almost surreal atmosphere it cultivates, and because it focuses in on common fantasy themes like personal interpretation and the creation of mythologies.
    Trick likes this.
  13. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    I'm a big fan of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. The first few books can be a little difficult to get into, and the style is quite different from most other modern books, but they're really good and the characterisation is fantastic. I'm currently on The Ionian Mission. The movie Master and Commander: Far Side of the World, with Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany as the two lead characters, was based on the series, specifically books 1 and 10.
    Trick likes this.
  14. Cambra

    Cambra Minstrel

    Shogun is currently on offer on amazon uk...

    I'm currently reading Robert Harris's Imperium, about the orator politico Cicero and the transition from the Roman Republic to an Empire... I find reading good quality history novels another way of doing research.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
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