13* things on my Kindle right now (and a story about reading whatever you want with no shame)

In college, I was at my friend Fiona's home with her family for a holiday meal, and we were chatting over early evening snacks in the kitchen. We were talking about what we loved to read, and our shared love of fantasy and sci-fi, and lamenting there weren't more strong female protagonists (then!) in the fantasy genre.

Kindle reading

Then Fiona shared something that still sticks with me so clearly today. "That's true in adult sci-fi and fantasy, but there are so many amazing female characters in Young Adult fiction. My favorite authors write YA. So what if I'm in college now? I can still read YA."

Wow, talk about liberating! Looking back, why wouldn't it be okay for me as a grown-ass-woman to read whatever I want? But at the time, Fiona's offhand statement was earthshattering for me! I too was reading Young Adult books, but I felt embarrassed by it. 

Today, I'm still reading a lot of YA. Not all, but a lot! I love fiction over nonfiction, and fantasy over anything else. I also get really attached to my characters and the universes they live in, so I tend to look for authors who write series. 

When we went to Europe last summer, Kian finally convinced me that reading on a Kindle was worthwhile. I still love paper books, but for traveling, and instant gratification for the next book in a series, I'll admit the Kindle is pretty great.

So what are the 42* items on my Kindle right now? In the order they appear ...

  1. The Agent of Hel Series by Jacqueline Carey
    Female protagonist, with a tail! Relatively light, and fun. Magic? Check.
  2. A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall
    Sigh, I picked this up the last time I was home sick from a Kindle recommendation. I didn't realize it's the first book of a new series, and book 2 isn't out until later in 2016. That's the worst!
  3. Kushiel's Legacy Series by Jacqueline Carey
    Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series is one of my absolute favorite series. I love it and all of its followups! Her other stuff, while different, is also good, as evidenced by #1 on this list.
  4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
    Yes, all 8 books currently out. Not my usual fare, but I actually enjoyed them a great deal. One of these days I'll get around to watching the TV adaptation. Thanks to my friend Shelby for convincing us all they were worth reading at her bachelorette weekend!
  5. The Queen of the Tearling Series by Erika Johansen
    Gah!!! Why is book 3 of this trilogy not out until June 2016?! Life is so unfair! I love that the protagonist in the books is physically ordinary... even if she is being played by the stunning Emma Watson in the movie adaptation. 
  6. Perfect Daughters by Robert Ackerman
    A break from all of my fantasy goodness. I do read other things, I swear! This one comes highly recommended for those of us who may now, as adults, be coming to terms with how our families growing up shaped us.
  7. Air Awakens Series by Elise Kova
    I picked this new trilogy up over Thanksgiving, and tore through both books that are out so far within 2 late nights of reading. It's SO good -- my current favorite. I mean, how can the protagonist not be a badass with the name Vhalla?  I'm counting the hours until book 3 comes out... luckily, that's February.
  8. Tactical Urbanism by Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia
    More adventures in non-fiction! I love the idea of tactical urbanism as a guerilla movement in today's culture. Plus, I got to meet the author (he's like, my age, people!) at a book talk earlier this year. He's SO much hipper than I am.
  9. The Crown of Tremontane Series by Melissa McShane
    Two books so far. A third (prequel?) was due out around Christmas. Different women of different generations, same universe. Balls and magic and politics and love.
  10. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
    I picked it up when the buzz about the first movie was bubbling. Not my favorite, but ultimately not bad. Can I classify this as "junk food" reading?
  11. All of the Mistborn Universe by Brandon Sanderson
    All of it. The main 3 books, the two followups, everything. So good. The female lead is part of an ensemble of protagonists, but it's still good. Ohh, I love the universe of this series so much. How all of the magic works, and the sociological bits. So good.
  12. The Great Society Subway by Zachary Schrag
    Once upon a time, when I was writing my master's thesis, this was a main source, and I had a signed hardcover copy. I loaned it to someone and it's lost now, but I decided after 5 years, this amazing history of how and why the DC Metrorail system came to be was well worth re-reading. I highly recommend.
  13. Elemental Blessings, Samaria Universe, Safe-Keepers, and a few others by Sharon Shinn
    I picked up Archangel at a book fair literally in middle school, and the story always stuck with me. I happened back upon the book by chance about a year ago, and realized it was part of a whole universe. Which I quickly devoured before beginning to work systematically through all of Sharon Shinn's other lovely universes. 3 down, 2 universes (and a few standalone books) to go. Second only to Jacqueline Carey, Sharon Shinn is my favorite.

*Well, when you tally them up by authors and universes, it doesn't seem so many... 42 individual items, but only 13 books and series, give or take! Reading's always been one of my vacations-in-everyday life, and I read my favorite books over and over and over again (that's another good thing about my Kindle -- fewer broken spines and dog-eared pages). 

My friends Shelby, Allie, and a few others swap suggestions a few times a year, but I'm always on the lookout for stories we haven't found yet. If you're a fan of strong women protagonists, hopefully there's something here for you -- and if you have a suggestion for something I should be reading, whether it's girl power or fabulous non-fiction or books that will teach me things, please please please won't you share, in the comments or by email or on Facebook or however makes you happy?! XOXO

personalAimee Custis