Someone at Ricochet requested “Fantasy Reading Suggestions.” The recommendations thus far have been disappointing. In the 103 comments I perused, Gene Wolfe, in my opinion the best living writer in English, is mentioned only once, his name misspelled. Others whom I consider essential have not been mentioned at all. For what it’s worth, here is some fantasy that has been overlooked so far there.
Gene Wolfe: Soldier of the Mist, at the very least, and The Sorcerer’s House. Read Wolfe carefully; every word counts, and nothing is as simple as it may at first seem. (Incidentally, Josh W. is working his way through The Book of the New Sun, one chapter at a time. It should keep him busy for several years. The most recent installment is here.)
Diana Wynne Jones: Pretty much everything she ever wrote is worth reading, so I’ll just name a few favorites. Howl’s Moving Castle (vastly better than the movie); Dogsbody; The Homeward Bounders; Fire and Hemlock; The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.
John Bellairs: The Face in the Frost and The Pedant and the Shuffly. (Bellairs also wrote St. Fidgeta and Other Parodies, which isn’t fantasy but is very funny, particularly if you are a Catholic who survived the silly years after Vatican II.)
Lord Dunsany: Any collection of his short stories.
J.R.R. Tolkien: He wrote more than just the novels Peter Jackson trashed. Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major and Leaf by Niggle are all worth tracking down.
Tim Powers: I have yet to read a disappointing book by Powers. The Anubis Gates is particularly recommended to English majors, and Declare to those who wonder why the Soviet Union lasted as long as it did.
C.S. Lewis: Till We Have Faces. The only fiction by Lewis I’ve ever re-read.
Charles Williams: Descent into Hell. Williams was one of the other Inklings, and his influence is perceptible in Tim Powers’ writing.
Flann O’Brien: The Third Policeman. Is it about a bicycle?
R.A. Lafferty: Anything and everything you can find. Much of his output is nominally science fiction, but it’s SF unlike any other and I don’t hesitate to call him a great fantasist.
G.K. Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday.
… and probably much else I’ll think of later.