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Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Discussion: Flights of Fancy

The staff here at the BPL is crazy for the HBO series Game of Thrones and the George R.R. Martin books in the Song of Ice and Fire Series on which the TV show is based.

While these books are decidedly fantasy, many non-fantasy readers who enjoy epic historical fiction also read them.  They are set in a world much like the time of the War of the Roses and the magical elements are definitely there but they are not at the forefront.

As a result I have readers coming in who are surprised that the books are in the fantasy section.

On the other hand, I had the penultimate class for the semester last week and I showed the same NoveList training video I always show.  In it a patron describes his personal reading tastes in his own words.  A few times he mentions how he likes westerns because they are "fantasy."  I stress with the students that while we know it must have magic to be a fantasy, to this reader, westerns are so far removed from his day-to-day life that they are fantasy to him.

These two situations paired together got me thinking about what I like to read when I want some "fantasy."  But not only the magical kind.  I am talking about when I want a book to take me somewhere completely different.

I think for me, true textbook "fantasy" usually has a darker, more macabre (or horror) element, like the Locke and Key series which I love!  But I think I also frequently read historical fiction for its "fantasy" like my video patron mentioned above.  A recent book that I found to fit this fantasy appeal for me was The Known World.

What about you?  For today's Monday Discussion let me know what you consider a "fantasy" read.  It could be plain fantasy or "fantasy to you."  Types of books or specific titles are fine.

For past Monday Discussions click here.


Betty said...

I think the Flavia DeLuce mysteries could be classified as fantasy. Her world is so far removed from the everyday one we know that it could be in another dimension. And she has powers that could also be considered "magical."

Another book that comes to mind is "The Once and Future King." One of my all-time favorites because of the depth of the characters and their feelings, as well as the setting. Ah, Camelot!

John BPL RA said...

My personal theory is that publishers are intentionally going for writers who blur the genre lines to pull in as much readership/fan base as possible. With the publishing industry suffering and the mass, nation-wide closing of bookstores, they just want to sell to as wide a readership as possible. The days of genre labels are drawing to a close as a result. You can either view it as a widening of creative influence or a wholesale clearance of dignity.

Anonymous said...


I recently read "11/22/63"
Stephen King's time travel
fantasy about a man going
back in time to attempt to
stop President Kennedy's
assassination. The book was
so absorbing it was easy to
accept a world in which a
person could go nearly 50
years into the past and try
and change events that already
had occurred. To me, an author
being able to make the unbe-
lievable believable is what
fantasy is all about.