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20 Fantasy Books for the Literary-Minded Reader

This fantasy bookshelf highlights 20 titles respected in literary and genre circles alike. Some of these authors, like Susanna Clarke and Octavia Butler, blur the line between fantasy and historical or literary fiction. Others, like Neil Gaiman and Richard Adams, erase the line completely. And genre titans from J.R.R. Tolkien to Terry Pratchett to Mary Stewart define the popular conception of the genre itself --- a pinch of Arthurian knights, a dash of Orc armies, and a whole lot of mystical happenings.

In these selections, you will find the tales you seek: of knights and ladies, witches and magicians, of earths far-flung and the gods that walk them. Stories of dragons and giants, kings and kingdoms. Stories to peel the veils of time back and show the world not as it is, but as it was --- or never could be.

So go! Pull that one down, that one in the corner you’ve been eyeing. But careful as you turn the pages. You never know where the tale might take you.

[Note: The top two shelves contain books that belong to series; the bottom shelves contain books that are stand-alone.]

Curated by John Maher