Editor’s Note: We are so excited to have Maggie Stiefvater at our Flagship Store in Dallas next week! She’ll be joining us Wednesday, September 25 at 7 p.m. for a book signing and Q & A. Please note that Maggie has asked readers to buy at least one of her books from an HPB, so please either buy a book the day of the event or bring in a receipt from another HPB; we will begin handing out signing passes starting at 9 a.m. on Weds the 25th (the day of the event). Additional books may be brought from home or from another store. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
We asked Maggie to come up with a list of books she recommends — thanks, Maggie! We appreciate it. — Kristen D.
I give a lot of love to my favorite fictional bits and bobs in most book recommendation posts I do, so I thought this time around, I’d list a few of my favorite nonfiction/ research/ mythology books. These are some true things I read before I make things up.
1. An Encyclopedia of Fairies, by Katharine Briggs. This big, dusty, out-of-print tome was my first real introduction to the fairy folklore of the United Kingdom. It’s a lovely alphabetical encyclopedia of all the various pretties and nasties that could kill you in a supernatural way as of the time of writing. It’s where I tell people to begin if they’re interested in British fairy lore.
2. The Golden Bough, by James George Frazer. Really, this is not the only book on comparative mythology out there, or the best, but it was the first for me — the first book I read that talked about myths from several different places and then said, “these all look a lot alike. Let’s DISCUSS.” How I adore discussing. So while #1 on my list gives you the specifics of some folklore, this one asks you to look at the general. Not to sound too geeky, but as a fantasy author, it’s invaluable. If you think hard about what purpose old mythology served, it better positions you to create new ones that might resonate in the same way, two hundred years later.
3. Songbook, by Nick Hornby. Probably this feels like a sharp left turn, but I don’t think it really is. Nick Hornby’s best known for his novels (Hollywood loves them, you’ve seen them on airplanes, they involve Hugh Grant), but this collection of essays on music is my favorite book by him. Music is as much an inspiration to me as mythology is, and it’s sort of the same thing — it’s a way we make sense of the world. Just another way we tell ourselves stories.
4. Wall and Piece, by Banksy. Even though this book is written by a guerrilla street artist and has nothing to do with music or mythology, it’s not a left turn, either. Because art is just another way of story-telling, of course, and Banksy is an artist famous for writing his own mythology.
5. The Career Novelist, by Donald Maass. Okay, I haven’t read this one in awhile. And it is an actual left turn from the other books in this list. But it’s the one book on the industry that really made an impact before I was published. It’s older, so some of what it says about the book industry is no longer right, but the broad concepts remain true. It’s a great guide on how to remain pragmatic in a career built on emotions.
Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Shiver trilogy, The Raven Cycle, & The Scorpio Races. You may visit her online or follow her on Twitter at @mstiefvater.