Do you LOVE science fiction and fantasy? Do you love chatting about it and rereading all your faves?

“You know the question, “Would you rather read your book or go our with your friends?” Books have IWantToReadItosity if you’d rather read them.”

page 237

So does Jo Walton, who in addition to being a genre fiction fan, also happens to be a Hugo and Nebula award-winning author (Among Others, 2012). But What Makes This Book So Great doesn’t read like it was written by an author talking about books. It reads like an extended informal conversation with a complete and total fan about  science fiction and fantasy favorites.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

A book all about fantasy and science fiction books? Awesome! What makes this book even better is that it is written from a fan perspective, not from a literary critic’s point of view.

This way, Walton’s sheer enthusiasm for the genre is never bogged down with dry textual analysis. This could be a friend you  could chat with, geeking out over sci-fi and fantasy.

Rating (5 stars)

I often found myself grinning while reading What Makes This Book so Great because the praise Walton heaps on some of her favorite books is very familiar. I’ve always been a re-reader and  to her talk about the lovely familiarity of her favorite series or knowing characters as good friends, resonates with me. It doesn’t matter if I’ve read the specific book .

Walton doesn’t strike up old arguments or taint a beloved story with a bizarre psychological theory. Instead, you just want to be her friend so you can chat over a cup of coffee about your favorite genre.

Barring that, this is the next best thing. In fact, I imagine you could keep this book close, and when you have post-book withdrawal, you can open to an essay at random, feel comforted by it, close it and then pick up your next read.

Interestingly enough, the whole book (all 446 pages) was originally a series of blog posts she wrote for from 2008 to 2011. This is apparent in many cases, but in no way detracted from my experience. Instead, I really enjoyed the conversational tone and the short length of the individual essays.

The only downside I’ve found is that I’ve suddenly added way too many books to my reading list!

Just forget about that question “What should I read next?” She’s got your geeky reading list covered.