The best fantasy fiction that makes you think way outside the box

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t remember when books weren’t a part of the scenery in my family’s home, and I can’t remember what the first book was that I read, though I suspect it was steeped in fantasy. Stories of ordinary people being tossed into extraordinary circumstances—the more extraordinary the betterhave always been a part of my reading life and a built-in template for my career as a writer. After two decades of writing, I have discovered that I didn't choose to be a writerI was born with a need to share ideas; to make others think in a different way. Without creating stories, I’d be lost. Without sharing them, I’d be incomplete.


I wrote...

Maggie's Dream

By Leslie Tall Manning,

Book cover of Maggie's Dream

What is my book about?

When World War II drags Maggie Lerner’s husband off to Europe, Maggie joins the workforce as one of America’s Rosies. Though she savors her freedom, she is haunted by a dream that leads her to believe something terrible will happen to her husband. After the war, Sam returns home unscathed, and Maggie, who once again takes her place as a doctor’s wife, believes the dream will disappear. Instead, it evolves into an all-consuming world where Maggie can have whatever she wishes. But all is not as it seems: Beneath the dream’s flawless surface, a monster lies in wait. In an era of post-war feminism and the latest in psychoanalysis, Maggie will need to confront this evil—whether real or imagined—before it destroys both her worlds.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Talisman

Leslie Tall Manning Why did I love this book?

Hands-down, this is Stephen King’s best novel to date, though it doesn’t get the same hype as his other books. Written with author Peter Straub, this magical story is one of the reasons I became a writer. Any fantasy reader will fall in love with the young male hero, along with all of the odd but fleshed-out characters. I have read it twice. And I just discovered it is now in production as a Netflix series!

By Stephen King, Peter Straub,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Talisman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer braves the mysterious dangers of the Territories, a surreal parallel world, in his quest--across the United States-for the Talisman, the only hope for his dying mother and for his own survival.


Book cover of Life of Pi

Leslie Tall Manning Why did I love this book?

Theology, science, love, fear, and death are delicately blended in this remarkable tale. The author, Yann Martel, urges the reader to hold sadness and joy in their hands at the same time and, in this particular story, you can’t have one without the other. Life of Pi is the perfect metaphor for ultimate sacrifice and courage, and how humans are capable of dealing with the deepest sorrow one can imagine.

By Yann Martel,

Why should I read it?

23 authors picked Life of Pi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi Patel, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger, Richard Parker, for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his…


Book cover of 1984

Leslie Tall Manning Why did I love this book?

If you haven't yet dug into this uber-long, super dark dystopian novel by George Orwell, then now is the time. No other fantasy novel I can think of better mirrors how technology is our own worst enemy and how political structures use it for their own intent; hence the common comparison to an “Orwellian” society. After reading 1984, you may just agree!

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

45 authors picked 1984 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU . . .

1984 is the year in which it happens. The world is divided into three superstates. In Oceania, the Party's power is absolute. Every action, word, gesture and thought is monitored under the watchful eye of Big Brother and the Thought Police. In the Ministry of Truth, the Party's department for propaganda, Winston Smith's job is to edit the past. Over time, the impulse to escape the machine and live independently takes hold of him and he embarks on a secret and forbidden love affair. As he writes the words 'DOWN WITH BIG…


Book cover of The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Leslie Tall Manning Why did I love this book?

This adult fairy tale by Mitch Albom is akin to It’s a Wonderful Life. A man believes his life means nothing until after he dies, then learns how important each life truly is. Yes, this story has been done before, but Albom is a master at the art of magical thinking and reminding people that we are all connected. It’s a short and easy read, perfect for a book club, or even for a reluctant teen reader.

By Mitch Albom,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Five People You Meet in Heaven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A STUNNING 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF THE MASTER STORYTELLER'S INSPIRATIONAL CLASSIC

To his mind, Eddie has lived an uninspiring life. Now an old man, his job is to fix rides at a seaside amusement park.

On his eighty-third birthday, Eddie's time on earth comes to an end. When a cart falls from the fairground, he rushes to save a little girl's life and tragically dies in the attempt. When Eddie awakens, he learns that the afterlife is not a destination, but a place where your existence is explained to you by five people - some of whom you knew, others…


Book cover of The Underground Railroad

Leslie Tall Manning Why did I love this book?

This Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Colson Whitehead seems to grow heavier and darker with each chapter, but it is an important read because it is steeped in real-life American slave history. If you have never read any type of Black magical realism, where one foot stands in the real world and another in a strange, almost parallel universe, then you might want to start with this one.

By Colson Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Underground Railroad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR TV SERIES BY BARRY JENKINS (COMING MAY 2021)

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017
WINNER OF THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD 2017
LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2017
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER 2016

'Whitehead is on a roll: the reviews have been sublime' Guardian

'Luminous, furious, wildly inventive' Observer

'Hands down one of the best, if not the best, book I've read this year' Stylist

'Dazzling' New York Review of Books

Praised by Barack Obama and an Oprah Book Club Pick, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award 2016 and the…


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Book cover of Liddy-Jean Marketing Queen and the Matchmaking Scheme

Mari Sangiovanni

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What is my book about?

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What is this book about?

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