The best books about fairies for adults and kids

Why am I passionate about this?

Mary Losure is the author of The Fairy Ring, or Elsie and Frances Fool the World. Though she doesn’t happen to believe in fairies herself, when she went to Cottingley, England, and explained that she was writing a children’s book about the girls who took the Cottingley Fairy Photographs, she met a surprisingly large number of people who did.  Plus, she’s always been interested in imaginary worlds. Her most recent book, Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d, is the story of a magic-seeking boy who grew up to become the world’s greatest alchemist. Oh, and also discovered the secrets of the universe….


I wrote...

The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World

By Mary Losure,

Book cover of The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World

What is my book about?

Elsie and Frances never meant to fool the world. How were they supposed to know the “fairy” photographs they’d taken would one day fall into the hands of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? (Who—unbeknownst to them—believed in fairies?) And what should they do when that famous and powerful author, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, began telling all of England that the so-called Cottingley Fairy Photographs must be real, for how could two young village girls be smart enough to fake them? Nonfiction, ages 10 and up.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Coming of the Fairies

Mary Losure Why did I love this book?

This is Doyle’s version of Elsie and Francis’s story, a book in which he argued that the existence of fairies had been proven, at last, by the modern technology of photography. To me, it’s a fascinating look at how events told from one point of view (a powerful man’s) can be entirely different from the same events told from less powerful players in the same drama. It’s also surprisingly timely, given the current state of polarization in our country: a case study of how people often believe what they want to believe, no matter how crazy it seems to others. 

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Coming of the Fairies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PREFACE This book contains reproductions of the famous Cottingley photographs, and gives the whole of the evidence in connection with them. The diligent reader is in almost as good a position as I am to form a judgment upon the authenticity of the pictures. This narrative is not a special plea for that authenticity, but is simply a collection of facts the inferences from which may be accepted or rejected as the reader may think fit. I would warn the critic, however, not to be led away by the sophistry that because some professional trickster, apt at the game of…


Book cover of The Fairies in Tradition and Literature

Mary Losure Why did I love this book?

For a serious look at English fairy lore, try The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature by K.M. Briggs. It’s only one of the author’s many books on fairies, so if you’re interested in English fairy lore, the work of Katharine. Briggs is a gold mine.

By Katharine M. Briggs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fairies in Tradition and Literature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fairies fascinate young and old alike. To some they offer tantalizing glimpses of other worlds, to others a subversive counterpoint to human arrogance and weakness. Like no other author, Katharine Briggs throughout her work communicated the thrill and delight of the world of fairies, and in this book she articulated for the first time the history of that world in tradition and literature.

From every period and every country, poets and storytellers have described a magical world inhabited by elfin spirits. Capricious and vengeful, or beautiful and generous, they've held us in thrall for generations. And on a summer's morn,…


Book cover of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

Mary Losure Why did I love this book?

Yeats, a mystic poet, travelled across Ireland in the late 1800s and early 1900s, asking country people if they’d ever seen fairies and taking down their stories. “I believe when I am in the mood that all nature is full of people whom we cannot see,” he wrote in an earlier book, The Celtic Twilight. “Even when I was a boy I could never walk in a wood without feeling that at any moment I might find before me somebody or something I had long looked for without knowing….” Yates believed the songs and stories "handed down among the cottages” were “Folk art [which]… because it has gathered into itself the simplest and most unforgettable thoughts of the generations… is the soil where all great art is rooted.”  His own poetry bears this out. 

By W.B. Yeats,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Irish Fairy and Folk Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fairy and folk tales from the best preserved branch of Celtic mythology.


Book cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Mary Losure Why did I love this book?

The fairies in this strange and gripping novel are taken straight from the folk traditions of fairies not as cute, butterfly-like creatures flitting around the garden but as powerful, heartless beings who steal people and take them to another world where they dance their lives away.  Despite being more than eight hundred pages long, the book was a New York Times bestseller—a testament to the author’s powerful imagination, wry sense of humor, clever plotting, and towering writing skills.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of…


Book cover of Artemis Fowl

Mary Losure Why did I love this book?

This book, too, mines the rich lode of fairy lore to create…well you might not call it Great Art, but it’s a great read. Who can resist a story about a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind who takes on the fairies? 

By Eoin Colfer,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Artemis Fowl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Now an original movie on Disney+!

Twelve-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl has discovered a world below ground of armed and dangerous--and extremely high-tech--fairies. He kidnaps one of them, Holly Short, and holds her for ransom in an effort to restore his family's fortune. But he may have underestimated the fairies' powers. Is he about to trigger a cross-species war?

Disney's “Artemis Fowl” is directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Tamara Smart, Nonzo Anozie, with Josh Gad, and Judi Dench.


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Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

Book cover of Kanazawa

David Joiner Author Of Kanazawa

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My book recommendations reflect an abiding passion for Japanese literature, which has unquestionably influenced my own writing. My latest literary interest involves Japanese poetry—I’ve recently started a project that combines haiku and prose narration to describe my experiences as a part-time resident in a 1300-year-old Japanese hot spring town that Bashō helped make famous in The Narrow Road to the Deep North. But as a writer, my main focus remains novels. In late 2023 the second in a planned series of novels set in Ishikawa prefecture will be published. I currently live in Kanazawa, but have also been lucky to call Sapporo, Akita, Tokyo, and Fukui home at different times.

David's book list on Japanese settings not named Tokyo or Kyoto

What is my book about?

Emmitt’s plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of purchasing their dream home. Disappointed, he’s surprised to discover her subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo.

In his search for a meaningful life in Japan, and after quitting his job, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa’s most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English. He becomes drawn into the mysterious death of a friend of Mirai’s parents, leading him and his father-in-law to climb the mountain where the man died. There, he learns the somber truth and discovers what the future holds for him and his wife.

Packed with subtle literary allusion and closely observed nuance, Kanazawa reflects the mood of Japanese fiction in a fresh, modern incarnation.

Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

What is this book about?

In Kanazawa, the first literary novel in English to be set in this storied Japanese city, Emmitt's future plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of negotiations to purchase their dream home. Disappointed, he's surprised to discover Mirai's subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo, a city he dislikes.

Harmony is further disrupted when Emmitt's search for a more meaningful life in Japan leads him to quit an unsatisfying job at a local university. In the fallout, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa's most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English.

While continually resisting Mirai's…


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