The best books to get lost in a world of wonders

Why am I passionate about this?

We live in a world of wonders! When my daughter was small, we used to go on wonder walks through our town—and led by the wide-open eyes of a child, we discovered amazing things. Magic and wonder aren’t just for kids. We all need it! And I never want to lose the capacity for it. Now I explore daily in my city of Montréal through the eyes of a camera, trying to see what I might miss if I weren’t open to the magic in the everyday. All of this inspires my writing, which uses fantasy elements to explore the human condition.

I wrote...

Hammer the Sky: And Other Wonder Tales

By LL Rose,

Book cover of Hammer the Sky: And Other Wonder Tales

What is my book about?

I wanted to explore wonder through a collection of short tales. Each story has fantasy elements, but is firmly rooted in the real world. And each, in some way, explores the question: What's a life for? 

For example, there’s young Bertie, who works at Haven House, where he serves those who have died—but are not yet dead. Or Gabe, who thought his life was all about his magical gift... but maybe it’s about something far more mysterious and valuable. And Caspertina Passala who, at age 103 is re-dreaming—or perhaps re-living—life’s events, and still learning about them. These stories explore mysteries of life, with a touch of whimsy.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Piranesi

LL Rose Why did I love this book?

Piranesi spoke deeply to me of the miraculous in the everyday. Clarke conjures a world so complete that, strange and sorrowful, severe and lonely as it is, you feel Piranesi’s attachment—and later his grief, when he learns the truth. For we’ve seen this world through his eyes: an infinite House, invaded by the sea, peopled by none other and visited by only one other—but full of wonders. Even as he suffers, Piranesi writes: The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite, and his diary records its beauties daily. “I am the Beloved Child of the House,” he says; and believing this, in his innocence and will to survive, he transforms both the simplest and harshest moments of the House into a bright, magical realm.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction

The spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, 'one of our greatest living authors' NEW YORK MAGAZINE
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend,…

Book cover of The Trees

LL Rose Why did I love this book?

I picked up this book because of its gorgeous front cover. Reading the back cover, I was instantly mesmerized. Such ravishing words! And such a strange notion. What would happen if suddenly, mammoth trees shot up and filled every space, splintering and sweeping houses, shops, gas stations, and roads up into their inexorable, growing, entwined branches? Civilization is shattered—electricity, running water, communications, all gone—and in its place is an endless forest. This is a story of apocalypse like no other, lovely and terrible in equal measure. Our extremely reluctant hero, Adrien, must learn to not just survive in the world of the trees, but to find its magic, and to help humanity have a proper place in it. Mythical and deeply philosophical.

By Ali Shaw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There came an elastic aftershock of creaks and groans and then, softly softly, a chinking shower of rubbled cement. Leaves calmed and trunks stood serene. Where, not a minute before, there had been a suburb, there was now only woodland standing amid ruins...

There is no warning. No chance to prepare.

They arrive in the night: thundering up through the ground, transforming streets and towns into shadowy forest. Buildings are destroyed. Broken bodies, still wrapped in tattered bed linen, hang among the twitching leaves.

Adrien Thomas has never been much of a hero. But when he realises that no help…

Book cover of Tom's Midnight Garden

LL Rose Why did I love this book?

This sweet portal fantasy explores the tender terrain of the human heart. During an outbreak, Tom is sent to live with his aunt and uncle—in a big house with no playmates and no garden. Lonely and pining, Tom stumbles into an earlier time, when the house had massive, glorious gardens, and a child his own age. He’s a kind of ghost there, but he and Hatty are real to each other... until time and growing up begins to rob them of what they had, and brings their two worlds together in a bittersweet, joyful-and-tearful ending. I first read the book as an adult, but wished I’d discovered it as a child, when it would have forever emblazoned my heart the way childhood magic does.

By Philippa Pearce, Jaime Zollars (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Tom's Midnight Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Carnegie Medal

From beloved author Philippa Pearce, this sixtieth-anniversary edition is the perfect way to share this transcendent story of friendship with a new generation of readers. Philip Pullman, bestselling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, called Tom's Midnight Garden "A perfect book."

When Tom's brother gets sick, he's shipped off to spend what he's sure will be a boring summer with his aunt and uncle in the country. But then Tom hears the old grandfather clock in the hall chime thirteen times, and he's transported back to an old garden where he meets a young,…

Book cover of His Dark Materials

LL Rose Why did I love this book?

Like so many others, my imagination was ignited by these books. Pullman created a solid world, so like our own in past times that it evokes wistful nostalgia, but so unique that it awakens an awed wonder. I adored the steampunk setting and all the time spent in academic environs. At the centre of it is a scrappy, young heroine who, for all her flaws, we fall in love with, and we enter wholeheartedly into her troubled journey. If that weren’t enough, the books explore deep, philosophical issues of relationships, power structures, and the very nature of being. When you finish the trilogy, you wake, as if from a dream... which you wish would never end.

By Philip Pullman,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked His Dark Materials 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 a major critically acclaimed BBC series

This special collection features all three titles in the award-winning trilogy: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Northern Lights
Lyra Belacqua lives half-wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle - a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armoured bears.

The Subtle Knife
Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld - Cittagazze, where soul-eating Spectres stalk the streets…

Book cover of The Bedlam Stacks

LL Rose Why did I love this book?

Having lived, in my youth, high in the Bolivian Andes, I was drawn to this tale, set mainly in the Peruvian cordilleras. And who can resist a book with “bedlam” in the title? Pulley invents an extraordinary world, rooted in ancient lore, but in detail invented, strange, magical, and compelling. Loving wordcraft sweeps you into a reality where you are just as confused as the protagonist, Merrick, stumbling his way through a dreamlike, unforgiving realm. Like Merrick, who is living in a culture he knows little of, we often aren’t sure what happened or why. And all the time, a friendship slowly grows between Merrick and Raphael, his guide and host—a friendship that will be tested by the inexorable workings of time-out-of-time.

By Natasha Pulley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE'S ENCORE AWARD 2018 LONGLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE 2018 'A sheer fantastical delight' The Times 'Epic' New York Times 'An immense treat' Observer Books of the Year 'A fast-paced adventure story' i 'Magical' Sunday Express In uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a mysterious forest. Deep within are cinchona trees, whose bark yields the only known treatment for malaria. In 1859, across the Pacific, India is ravaged by the disease. In desperation, the India Office dispatches the injured expeditionary Merrick Tremayne to Bedlam, under orders to…

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By Katherine Grant,

Book cover of The Sailor Without a Sweetheart

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Why am I passionate about this?

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What is my book about?

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Six years ago, Amy decided *not* to elope with Captain Nate Preston. Now, he is back in the neighborhood, and he is shocked to discover that Amy is unmarried. Even more surprising, she is clearly battling some unnamed illness. Thrown together by circumstances outside their control, Nate and Amy try to be friends. Soon, it becomes clear that their feelings for each other never died. Has anything changed, or are they destined for heartbreak once more?

The Sailor Without a Sweetheart

By Katherine Grant,

What is this book about?

Is love worth giving a second chance?

Six years ago, Amy Lamplugh decided not to elope with Nate Preston. Ever since, she has been working hard to convince herself she was right to choose her family over Nate.

Now, Nate is back. After an illustrious career as a naval captain, he faces a court martial for disobeying orders while fighting the slave trade. He accepts an invitation to await the trial at a country estate outside of Portsmouth - and discovers he is suddenly neighbors with Amy.

Nate is shocked to find that Amy didn’t end up marrying someone rich…

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Interested in trees, gardens, and magical realism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about trees, gardens, and magical realism.

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Magical Realism Explore 415 books about magical realism