Celebrating 20 Years of Sonderbooks: Favorites from 2001

This month, I’m celebrating 20 years of writing Sonderbooks!

I thought it would be fun to celebrate by posting some favorite books from each of those 20 years, so I’m starting with 2001.

Of course, that task is simple, since each year I made a list of Stand-outs — I called it a Special Edition at the beginning. So I’ll look at my list from 2001 and talk about the books that I especially remember and love twenty years later.

Wow. The first thing I notice is that I was doing more rereading back at the beginning — and covered some of my all-time favorite books that year. This was because I tried to include an Old Favorite in every issue. I’ve gotten away from that and I miss it. But I won’t even go over all the wonderful books I reread that first year — those are all still my favorites, and you can see them in the Special Edition.

But look at the books I read the first time that year!

The Thief and The Queen of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner!

These almost-historical fantasy novels in a world similar to ancient Greece deal with the cleverest but also wonderfully flawed main character and the plots of the whole series, but especially at the beginning, have twists that make you want to read and reread to admire the craftsmanship.

Enchantress from the Stars, by Sylvia Engdahl!

This science fiction book tells a story from three perspectives — a super advanced society who has perfected space travel and telepathy, a medieval society on a planet somewhere, and an advanced — but not so advanced — society that also has space travel and wants to harvest the resources of the medieval planet. Without interfering, a young woman from the super-advanced society is sent to the planet to convince a young man she is an enchantress and can teach him to go on a quest and defeat the dragon that’s attacking.

Dark Lord of Derkholm and Year of the Griffin, by Diana Wynne Jones!

In these books, we see a fantasy world where people from our world come for tours. This year, Derk of Derkholm has been appointed the Dark Lord the people on the tour will have to think they’re defeating. Lots of humor plus insight into fantasy tropes.

The Sand-Reckoner, by Gillian Bradshaw!

This is still one of my favorite novels ever — about the life of Archimedes, the great mathematician of Alexandria.

Tales from Earthsea, by Ursula LeGuin!

This went along with rereading all the Earthsea books — but I especially loved some of the additional insights in the stories of this book.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig!

I can’t believe I didn’t read this until 2001! It’s a classic. Read it!

I read five books about English Speakers moving to live among a different culture! Those are so much fun. Check my Special Edition for the list.

Suburban Nation, by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck

The ideas in this book still fascinate me — about how much the design of cities makes them livable — or not. I could see for myself how much nicer it was to live in a European village, and this book pointed out some of the reasons why suburbs aren’t as livable.

For the Love of Ireland, edited by Susan Cahill

This is still my favorite travel book ever. It very much helped that I read it during my favorite vacation ever — three weeks traveling around Ireland. But I also liked the format — stories and essays about Ireland collected in one volume and tied to places in Ireland.

Okay, there were lots more wonderful books I read and reread that year. It’s made me smile to revisit them. I can tell this way of celebrating is going to make me want to do lots of rereading. No wonder I love writing Sonderbooks so much!

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