A Reader's Guide to Unfamiliar Literature
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A Good Place To Start

A Wizard of Earthsea 3
The Left Hand of Darkness 2
The Dispossessed 1
The Lathe of Heaven 1

A Bad Place To Start

Malafrena 1


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Categorization is odious. There is tremendous overlap among genres. These pigeonholes are offered only as a convenience.

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 - )

added by decemberthirty


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Please consider recommending where to begin reading this author, or where not to. A few words about your experiences reading this author and why you make the recommendations you do will be helpful to other users. If you are the author or have studied this author extensively, please say so.

decemberthirty January 30th, 2006 04:37 PM PST

I'm a huge LeGuin fan; I've read lots of her work, and you almost can't go wrong when picking a place to start with her. All of her stuff is beautifully written and features very believable characters. My personal favorite of her books is A Wizard of Earthsea, which showcases her talents as a storyteller and world-builder, as well as her fantastic ear for rhythm. If you're not into YA, however, The Left Hand of Darkness or The Lathe of Heaven would be good places to start. Her short stories are also well worth reading; I suggest Unlocking the Air or The Birthday of the World.

Marian October 14th, 2006 09:17 AM PST

The K in "Ursula K. LeGuin" stands for Kroeber. She is the daughter of Alfred L. Kroeber (anthropologist) and Theodora Covel Brown Kracaw Kroeber (writer, author of Ishi in Two Worlds (1961); The Inland Whale; etc.).

This is doubtless why she not only creates worlds, but documents them in detail; she is a natural ethnographer. She doesn't just take you somewhere; she shows you what it's like to be FROM there.

That said, I found LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS very long and slow. It certainly took me someplace, but I was relieved to finally leave! If you find yourself feeling the same way ...

READ HER SHORT STORIES!!! There is one, "The Barrow," that I read in 1976 when it originally came out in F&SF and have carried around in my mind ever since. It takes you somewhere (in this case, Earth at an actual point in history) for one jarring, unforgettable moment.

"The Barrow" can be found in her 1975 collection "Orsinian Tales."


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As of 2010, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, three collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include a volume of poetry, Incredible Good Fortune, the novel Lavinia, and an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl. She lives in Portland, Oregon. www.ursulakleguin.com

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