- Alexander, Lloyd — The Black Cauldron
- Anthony, Piers — Letters to Jenny
- Cooper, Susan — Over Sea, Under Stone
- Proulx, Annie — Close Range: Wyoming Stories
- Kincaid, Jamaica — Lucy
- Christie, Agatha — The Unexpected Guest
- Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
- Cooper, Susan — The Dark Is Rising
- Cooper, Susan — Greenwitch
- Shaffer, Peter — Amadeus
- Anonymous — Go Ask Alice
- Cooper, Susan — The Grey King
- Martin, Steve — Shopgirl
- Cooper, Susan — Silver on the Tree
- Gaiman, Neil — Stardust
- Gaiman, Neil — Coraline
- Le Guin, Ursula — A Wizard of Earthsea
- Le Guin, Ursula — The Tombs of Atuan
- Le Guin, Ursula — The Farthest Shore
I thought I had read the Earthsea trilogy when I was 10 or 12, but I must not have read The Farthest Shore, for I found, as I read it this past week, that I had absolutely no recollection of it. Well, now I've read it, and I'm eager to move on to Tehanu and the other Earthsea books and all the Hainish books! Le Guin is such an amazing writer!
One of the things I love most about her writing is that it's so introspective. She not only weaves a gripping, suspenseful tale, she makes deep and powerfully expressed observations about life that really make me stop and think. I realize this is not unique amongst authors, but Le Guin does it better than most.
'Try to choose carefully, Arren, when the great choices must be made. When I was young I had to choose between the life of being and the life of doing. And I leapt at the latter like a trout to a fly. But each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are.'
Arren was silent, pondering this. Presently the mage said, speaking softly, 'Do you see, Arren, how an act is not, as young men think, like a rock that one picks up and throws, and it hits or misses, and that's the end of it. When that rock is lifted the earth is lighter, the hand that bears it heavier. When it is thrown the circuits of the stars respond, and where it strikes or falls the universe is changed. On every act the balance of the whole depends. The winds and seas, the powers of water and earth and light, all that these do, and all that the beasts and green things do, is well done, and rightly done. All these act within the Equilibrium. From the hurricane and the great whale's sounding to the fall of a dry leaf and the gnat's flight, all they do is done within the balance of the whole. But we, in so far as we have power over the world and over one another, we must learn to do what the leaf and the whale and the wind do of their own nature. We must learn to keep the balance. Having intelligence, we must not act in ignorance. Having choice, we must not act without responsibility. Who am I – though I have the power to do it – to punish and reward, playing with men's destinies?'
'…For discipline is the channel in which our acts run strong and deep; where there is no direction, the deeds of men run shallow, and wander, and are wasted. …'
'Life without end,' the mage said. 'Life without death. Immortality. Every soul desires it, and its health is the strength of its desire. But be careful, Arren. You are one who might achieve your desire.'
'And then – this. This blight upon the lands. The arts of man forgotten. The singer tongueless. The eye blind. And then? A false king ruling. Ruling forever. And over the same subjects forever. No births; no new lives. No children. Only what is mortal bears life, Arren. Only in death is there rebirth. The Balance is not a stillness. It is a movement – an eternal becoming.'
A kind of weariness of dread, of waiting for the worst, grew in Arren all day long. Impatience and a dull anger rose in him. He said after hours of silence, 'This land is as dead as the land of death itself!'
'Do not say that,' the mage said sharply. He strode on a while and then went on, in a changed voice, 'Look at this land; look about you. This is your kingdom, the kingdom of life. This is your immortality. Look at the hills, the mortal hills. They do not endure forever. The hills with the living grass on them, and the streams of water running … In all the world, in all the worlds, in all the immensity of time, there is no other like each of those streams, rising cold out of the earth where no eye sees it, running through the sunlight and the darkness to the sea. Deep are the springs of being, deeper than life, than death …'
If you like stories that are all about arriving at point B from point A, you may not appreciate Le Guin. Frankly, her points B, her conclusions, often seem to me a little anticlimactic. That's because they really aren't that important, I think. Her stories' worth lie in the journeys themselves, as much or moreso the spiritual/psychological journey within, of self-discovery, than any specific plotline. And in that respect, she has few peers.