Here’s another Editor’s Pick blog post, where we ask each of our team a question and everyone sees what they can come up with for an answer.
This time we asked: What are you currently obsessing over?
(And this could be any media—books, movies, tv shows, magazines, podcasts—that they’re reading or watching and want to share.)
Suzanne's Pick: Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
I discovered Terry Pratchett and his imaginative and magical Discworld through his collaboration with one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman. How had I never heard of this amazing series before? I mean, come on, a flat world filled with magic that’s balanced on the back of four elephants who ride on the back of a giant turtle that’s “swimming” through the Universe! How can it get better than that? This winter, I became a weekly visitor to my library, checking out several Discworld books at a time. My flat world adventures had begun. Each book introduced me to new characters, new possibilities, new adventures, and new laugh-out-loud moments that left my cheeks hurting.
However my favorite Discworld book (so far anyway) is not part of the series, but a stand-alone novel set on the same world. Thief of Time could easily be in my top 10 favorite fantasy novels. It’s one of those books, that when I finished the last page, I sat there with the biggest grin on my face, so appreciative of the world that I had escaped to for a few days. Although Terry Pratchett has since passed away, I’m grateful for the Discworld that he created for those of us still ready to discover more magical and joyous adventures.
Jon's Pick: Jack Reacher
For the last little bit I’ve been reading a lot of Jack Reacher. When I first watched the old Tom Cruise Reacher movie a few years ago I really liked it, so I decided to read the book. And then I read another, and another, and eventually ended up reading every book available in the library. 23 books.
As soon as I read the first book, I realized that Tom Cruise wasn't really a good Reacher. He has the attitude, but not the physicality, so when the new series was release (on Amazon) and I saw Alan Ritchson, I thought hell yeah, and I knew I had to watch it. The series covers the first book, and they did a pretty good job. I’m excited to see how they handle the next book in the series. But the books are hands-down still the best version of Reacher, and are probably my favorite book series to date.
Megann's Pick: The Untamed
(live-action drama based on the novel Mo Dao Zu Shi by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu and the donghua of the same name)
This show (and everything surrounding it) has been my obsession for over a year now, and I don’t see that obsession dying down anytime soon. Whether it’s the 50-episode live-action drama, or the multiple season animated donghua, or the (very literal) millions of words of fan-fiction I’ve read (seriously, I’ve read individual fics that are well over a million words, and when adding the hundreds of fics up…) there’s just no end to this story.
To make a very complex story simple, this is about a charismatic genius cultivator named Wei Wuxian who is vilified by the cultivation world for inventing demonic cultivation to win them a war against the tyrannical Wen Clan. The series begins at his death, and only gets—somehow—even more heartbreaking as we watch how it unfolds.
Spanning the decades and crossing lifetimes, it’s is filled with sacrifice, resurrection, conspiracy, corruption, brotherhood, and family. But at the heart of it is the relationship between Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, who is a shining example of everything a righteous cultivator should be, standing as a light to Wei Wuxian’s darkness. (They’re gay, if that’s not clear). And yeah, sometimes the sets or the fight scenes aren’t that high-budget, but there is just so much damn heart and emotion and meaning behind the characters and their story—especially the connection between Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, who first meet when they fight (flirt) on a rooftop under the full moon, and only get more gay for each other from there. It’s that heart that makes this story worth obsessing over again and again.
Kristann's Pick: Fanfiction
Like another person on our team, my favorite piece of media of all time is the unsurpassable Chinese drama, The Untamed. The plot and characters have already been described a bit above, and I could go on for pages and pages trying to convey just how tightly this story, world, and characters have gripped my heart and why it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen, but instead of repeating what’s already been said (and risk talking myself in circles screaming AAHGANVAJIVJSAD!!) I’ll talk about fan-fiction. Because the world of The Untamed, the cultivation magic, and the many, many beloved characters, have such a strong essence and emotion that the millions of pieces of fan-fiction out there feel like extensions of this same story and only compound and expand and enhance my already unfathomable love of this show. (As fanfiction tends to do).
I have seriously been reading Untamed fan-fiction continually since watching the show in February 2021, and I am not tired of it one single bit. Time travel, fix-its, immortal husbands, character redemptions, brother reconciliations, accidental adoption, crossovers, sword dragons, alternate childhoods, tooth-aching fluff, other POV, cannon divergence, reincarnation, gay everyone, and hundreds of others of variations of this amazing story. So if I had to pick a piece of media that is my second favorite after Untamed, it might genuinely be an Untamed fan-fiction.
To name just a few specifically: The Beast of Gusu (by Netrixie on AO3) or The World We Made (by updatebug on AO3) are two of my favorites. The first, Beast of Gusu, takes the main character, Wei Wuxian, and has him as a wolf shifter who meets Lan Wangji during their school days in ancient China. Much pining, wolf shenanigans, sleepy music sessions, and eventual bloody violent war against the evil Wen Clan ensues. It’s phenomenal. The other fic, The World We Made, is a crossover of the movie The Old Guard (also EXCELLENT) where the characters of the Untamed are an immortal cultivator family and it follows their travels throughout time and how Wei Wuxian gives up his life and immortality so his nephew can live, to the heartbreaking sorrow of his husband and family, only to be born again hundreds of years later with no memories. Then he meets his family again in modern France when his son and friends suddenly become new immortals themselves after a cave-in kills them. Really dang good stuff.
I really can’t say if I’ll ever get tired of rereading different versions of these character’s lives and. The day may come when something topples this unfathomably good story… but it is not this day.
Fanart done by Kristann (@imma.bunni) for the fanfiction The Beast of Gusu by Netrixie on AO3
What are you reading?
We'd love to hear what books you are all reading! Feel free to comment with your favorite, or any that you recommend (we know how hard it is to actually pick a single favorite book!) We're always looking for more amazing stories.
--Starwhale Books Team