I am of the very strong opinion that writer's can learn something from every great thing they read. So, I thought I'd start a list of recommended reading, and add some of the things that I learned from reading some of these books. I will name specific books in certain series's as STARS.
Starting with SUPERNATURAL and OTHER fiction:
Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series - I've learned a lot of things from her, being my mentor, but I think the greatest thing is what makes her supernatural series's so brilliant. It's beyond important to ground whatever supernatural elements you have in reality to make them relateable. STARS: Stolen, Haunted, and the Darkest Powers Y.A series
Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake - I know a lot of people have said things about Hamilton's books lately, but I love her and I love them even with the things that bothered people about them. Hamilton has this way of writing a ass kicking detective story with characters that you love; when I grow up I want to be Anita Blake. It's the tough chick with vulnerability that makes her so bloody awesome. There are so many things that you can learn from reading Anita, but I think the biggest is character development and growth. STARS: Guilty Pleasures, Obsidian Butterfly, The Harlequin, Micah, Blood Noir
Dean Koontz's Frankenstein - I was totally blown away by this. Only Dean Koontz could take something like Frankenstein and flip it on its head in a way that sticks to you long after you put the book down. The first time we met the main character Carson O'Conner I was immediately hooked, with similarities to Anita Blake its hard not to fall in love.
Charlaine Harris - this woman can do it all, but I particularly love her Harper Connelly series. Harris is brilliant at 'setting as character', bringing the Southern U.S to the forefront. STARS: I haven't read a book by her I didn't like - I'm so not kidding.
Stephen King - I learned a lot of my first writing lessons from the great Mr. King. But the biggest one was to use your own fears when writing scary stories. STARS: Different Seasons
Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box - the apple does not fall from the tree I guess! A fantastic writer, Mr King's son has written something that really makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
Amelia Attwater Rhodes - if you've got a youngin in your life that wants to read vampire books, this young woman has crafted some amazing vampire fiction, her first book being published when she was 13. I've been a fan of her for years, and would recommend her books to anyone and everyone. STARS: In the Forest of the Night, Demon In My View, Midnight Predator, Persistence of Memory
The Crow Comic - fans of the movie really should pick this up. Beautiful is all I can really say
30 Days of Night comic - when this hit the shelves my brother picked it up for me for a birthday and I fell in love. The concept is brilliant and horrific, and the artistry of the comic itself is brilliant. But, they are very different from the movie. A must read for true vampire lovers
Poppy Z Brite's Lost Souls - a vampire classic. BRUTAL and violent, but once you look past that a truly amazing book. Another must read for vampire lovers.
Tanya Huff's Blood Ties - this was the first book I'd read where a historical character was used supernatrually. The bastard son of Henry VIII is a charming and very enjoyable to read.
Alan Moore - I love his work. He got me interested in graphic novels as a medium. STARS: V for Vendetta, From Hell
Lisa Lutz - I love her humor. She has a well crafted reluctant hero in Izzy Spellman, and anything that she writes is an auto buy. STARS: The Spellman Files, Heads You Lose
Evelyn Lau - this homegrown talent was the first author reading I ever went to, and I will never forget. She was an absolute inspiration to me as a young girl, and still is, and I love her poetry as well as her fiction. Her memoir, Runaway, shaped my writing as a teenager. STARS: Runaway, Choose Me
Joyce Carol Oates - this is another case of reading 'real people' in fiction that blew me away. Her novel about Marilyn Monore 'Blonde' is absolutely amazing.
Maureen Jennings - I cannot say enough how much I adore Maureen. Even if I didn't know her personally, I would still love her work, which is a study in character building. I admire her even more when I read a Murdoch book, and I hope that my characters end up as memorable as hers. STARS: Except the Dying, The K Handshake, Season of Darkness
Thomas Harris's Hannibal Rising - have you ever heard the saying 'sympathy for the devil'? Hannibal Rising has that in spades. You walk away from that book feeling sympathy for Hannibal Lecter. Don't believe me? Pick up the book, I'm so not kidding. I also thought it was interesting that the movie script came before the book did, and there wasn't going to be a book, because the movie really fell short for me and the book is absolutely brilliant.
Francesca Lia Block - her books are pure poetry. She's amazing for her lyrical descriptions. STARS: Violet and Claire, Echo
Cassandra Clare - some of the BEST supernatural Y.A fiction around, period. I wasn't a believer, at first, I'd heard the hype but wasn't sold because of the write up on the back of City of Ashes. But her books are SO much more then their descriptions, the mythology is inspired, the characters amazing. If you've been looking at these books and aren't entirely sure PICK THEM UP. You won't regret it. STARS: The Mortal Instruments Series (I haven't read the Infernal Devices yet, but I'm sure its good and will end up in this list as well)
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro - the genre bender herself, she created her own genre with her Saint Germain novels. I think its clear when you read my work how inspired I am by her. STARS: Saint Germain Memoirs, Darker Jewels.
NEW ADDITION: February 10, 2012 - Maria V Snyder - so far I've only read her 'Study' series, and I think she's one of the best fantasy writer's I've ever read. The world building and characters are amazing, the story beautifully crafted. For more, please read my blog entry 'Maria V Snyder and the 'Study' Series. STARS: Poison Study, the place where it all starts.
Sandra Gulland - I did not cry at the end of a book until I read the Josephine B trilogy. The story of Josephine's life and her love for Napoleon is so beautiful and amazing, and Gulland's writing weaves a story that stays with you long after, and will make you want to read all three books one after the other. STARS: The Josephine B Trilogy - The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B, Tales of Passion Tales of Woe, The Last Great Dance on Earth
Phillipa Gregory - I've spoken about her before, I love her work and admire her greatly. I love that she doesn't necessarily pick the most common resources and sometimes uses the more controversial sources to build her characters. STARS: The Boleyn Inheritance, The Queen's Fool.
Robin Maxwell - great books about the Tudor time period, I really love her representation of Anne Boleyn at a variety of points in her live. STARS: Mademoiselle Boleyn
Hilda Lewis's I Am Mary Tudor - I wrote an entire post about the significance of Queen Mary in my life and my work. This is the most highly recommended piece of historical fiction that I have found about her.
C.W. Gortner - I was blown away by his work, and after The Last Queen I am interested in everything he writes. I love how he takes greatly misunderstood women, like Johanna the Mad and Catherine de Medici, and gives them a real voice. He has a fantastic blog for anyone who is interested. STARS: The Last Queen
C.C. Humphreys - the sheer scope of his epic novel Vlad the Last Confession is mind boggling. I had to put it down sometimes because of the sheer brutality of it, but it is an absolutely amazing work and I recommend it highly. STARS: Vlad, the Last Confession
Susan Fraser King - I stumbled upon this writer's book Lady Macbeth quite randomly and fell in love. She has made Scotland feel like home for me, and given Lady Macbeth a voice that is grounded in fact and historical basis. STARS: Lady Macbeth
Ariana Franklin, may she rest in peace - this author's Mistress of the Art of Death series is one of my absolute favourites. Beautifully written, Adelia Agular is a character for the ages. A woman who defies everything, brilliant doctor and incredible mind, and force of nature. Her scenes with Henry II are amazing. STARS: The Serpents Tale, with an amazing representation of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Rosalind Miles's I, Elizabeth - the fictional memoirs of Elizabeth I are highly addictive and incredibly readable, a true standout among Tudor related fiction.
Jack Whyte - my mother has been raving about him for years, and we went listen to him speak about his latest, The Forest Laird, and the research he had done connected to it. This man should be a natural treasure, writer's like him only come along once in a generation. If you ever have a chance to listen to him speak don't walk there, run. He's amazing.
Margaret George's The Memoirs Of Cleopatra - the sheer scope of this sweeping epic is overwhelming at first, but once you pick it up you're immediately with this famous queen in Alexandria living her life; loving Caesar, defending her country, every last detail comes to life in George's highly gifted hands.
Rebecca Johns' The Countess - this is the ONLY fiction book I would recommend about my beloved Countess. John's prose is highly readable, her choice of a letter form to the Countess's son Pal gives it a tenderness one would only hear from a mother speaking to her beloved son. She has given the Countess a voice and a personality that is remarkable. I respect her as a writer and as a person, and would highly recommend this book.
So, there's the list, so far. I know its long, but writer's read. Hopefully you'll pick up and enjoy some of these books as much as I did. If you have anything you'd like to recommend to me, please feel free to leave it in the comments section.