The best first book in a fantasy series that will make you have to devour the rest of the series

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the reasons I prefer novels to short stories as both reader and writer is that I like to immerse myself in fictional worlds and forge ongoing relationships with the characters who live in them. Often, in fact, I experience something resembling grief when I reach the end of a beloved book and am forced to say goodbye to the people and places that have so captured my imagination through all those pages. And that’s as true for the books I write as for those I read. For me, whether I’m writing it or reading it, that’s the major attraction of a compelling series!


I wrote...

The MoonQuest

By Mark David Gerson,

Book cover of The MoonQuest

What is my book about?

What if speaking or writing the words “once upon a time” got you jailed…or killed? That’s the situation in Q’ntana, where stories are banned, storytellers are exiled or executed, and the moon, saddened by the silence, has cried tears that have extinguished her light.

Now, one young bard must come out of hiding to embark on The MoonQuest, the long-prophesied journey to restore story to the land and light to the moon. He sets off reluctantly and with no clear direction, knowing only that it's the stories he tells from his heart that will guide him and keep him safe, even as he’s relentlessly pursued by the King’s Men—black shirts, black masks, and black mounts surging toward him through the black night.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Fellowship of the Ring

Mark David Gerson Why did I love this book?

I was 13 when I was gifted Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and, for all the many times I tried, I couldn’t get into it. Some 25 years later when I sold most everything I owned to move to Nova Scotia, my unread Tolkien didn’t make the cut.

What changed my mind? A BBC Radio dramatization. I stumbled on it soon after I got to Nova Scotia and was instantly hooked. Although I’d begun writing my book earlier that year, I’d set it aside before my move, unsure whether I would ever return to it.

But I was so inspired by the BBC dramatization, and then by the books, that I immediately picked up my abandoned manuscript. Twelve weeks later, it was done. I’d finished writing my first novel!

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Fellowship of the Ring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

This brand-new unabridged audio book of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first part of J. R. R. Tolkien's epic adventure, The Lord of the Rings, is read by the BAFTA award-winning actor, director and author, Andy Serkis.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, a young hobbit is entrusted with an immense task. He must make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ruling Ring of Power - the only thing that prevents the Dark Lord Sauron's evil dominion.

Thus begins J. R. R. Tolkien's classic tale of adventure, which continues in…


Book cover of A Wrinkle in Time

Mark David Gerson Why did I love this book?

Most people read young adult fantasy when they’re in their teens. That wasn’t true for me.

In fact, ironically for someone who would end up writing fantasy, I didn’t read much of it until I was well beyond my teens. That’s when I discovered YA authors like Madeleine L’Engle, Michael Ende, and Ursula K. Le Guin. L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, however, was the first.

At the time, I was refocusing my life—away from the logical and intellectual and toward the spiritual and numinous, not unlike Wrinkle’s main characters, whose journey became a powerful metaphor for my own creative and spiritual awakening.

Moreover, that the now-classic book was rejected 26 times over two years was a potent lesson in perseverance. It still is.

By Madeleine L'Engle,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked A Wrinkle in Time 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?

Puffin Classics: the definitive collection of timeless stories, for every child.

We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts.

When Charles and Meg Murry go searching through a 'wrinkle in time' for their lost father, they find themselves on an evil planet where all life is enslaved by a huge pulsating brain known as 'It'.

Meg, Charles and their friend Calvin embark on a cosmic journey helped by the funny and mysterious trio of guardian angels, Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which. Together they must find the weapon that will defeat It.…


Book cover of The Crystal Cave

Mark David Gerson Why did I love this book?

Although in my 30s when I read this first installment in Mary Stewart’s Arthurian series, I couldn’t help but identify with this tale of a young outsider with uncertain parentage who is shunned for his visionary abilities…a young outsider named Merlin.

As I followed his coming-of-age story, I couldn’t help but see myself in Merlin’s journey. At the time, I was barely a year into a life-changing odyssey, feeling pushed into embracing my own uncertain parentage and prodded into acknowledging inner realms that I would once have dismissed as New Age claptrap.

Like Merlin, I was in the midst of experiencing a version of myself for the first time. And like Merlin, I was learning to be okay with it.

By Mary Stewart,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Crystal Cave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The spellbinding story of Merlin's rise to power.

Vivid, enthralling, absolutely first-class - Daily Mail

So begins the story of Merlin, born the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess in fifth century Britain, a world ravaged by war. Small and neglected, with his mother unwilling to reveal his father's identity, Merlin must disguise his intelligence - and hide his occasional ability to know things before they happen - in order to keep himself safe.

While exploring the countryside near his home, Merlin stumbles across a cave filled with books and papers and hiding a room lined with crystals. It is…


Book cover of A Wizard of Earthsea

Mark David Gerson Why did I love this book?

A Wizard of Earthsea is a coming-of-age story. I also didn’t discover it until long after I’d passed out of my teens. Yet, A Wizard of Earthsea affected me deeply at a time when I was moving through earthquaking life changes. 

As someone who had been creatively blocked for decades — I had not yet started writing my book—I was immediately sucked in by the first line of the quote that opens the book: “Only in silence the word…” 

In the end, I was so inspired by the Earthsea series and by Le Guin’s writings on creativity that I sent her a copy of my book’s first edition as soon as it was published.

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked A Wizard of Earthsea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The first book of Earthsea in a beautiful hardback edition. Complete the collection with The Tombs of Atuan, The Furthest Shore and Tehanu

With illustrations from Charles Vess

'[This] trilogy made me look at the world in a new way, imbued everything with a magic that was so much deeper than the magic I'd encountered before then. This was a magic of words, a magic of true speaking' Neil Gaiman

'Drink this magic up. Drown in it. Dream it' David Mitchell

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge,…


Book cover of The Alchemyst

Mark David Gerson Why did I love this book?

If my previous selections showed up for me at a time of profound shift and helped reignite my creativity, I was already an established author by the time I discovered The Alchemyst.

What I was looking for in those days was a compelling story, and what attracted me to this one was its blend of magic and mythology played out in a contemporary setting and involving a real-life historical figure. I love what I guess you’d call fictional biography, and the Nicholas Flamel series must be the most creative example of the genre I have ever come across. 

At the same time, Michael Scott’s imaginative use of the historical Nicholas Flamel inspired me to borrow real-life personages for my other (non-fantasy) fiction series.

By Michael Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Alchemyst as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects - the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do…


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Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of Rip Current

Sharon Ward Author Of In Deep

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.

Sharon's book list on mysteries set on a tropical island

What is my book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.

Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary. When a young internet influencer…

Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

What is this book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.
Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary.
Soon after a young internet…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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