Tamora Pierce's first two quartets is falling apart on my shelf. They're even more tattered than my Harry Potters, and I intend to keep rereading them until they've fallen to dust. If you are too old for them, read them anyway. If you know someone who's just the right age, give them as a gift.
I learned a great deal about relationships--both romances and friendships--from these novels, and I also learned a great deal about swords, animal behavior, human facial expressions, and how to decide when to be honest and when to be silent. Rereading them this past week (and dozens of times in the last thirteen or so years), I smile every time I come across a bit of syntax or a word that I remember learning from these books, and recognize (as an adult) how very smart Ms. Pierce made her heroines--they have complex emotional lives, they practice safe sex, they laugh at themselves the few times they drink to excess, they are fiercely self-reliant but accept love when it's offered. In each book I find at least one 'lesson' that I now consider an integral part of my worldview.
I found The Immortals first, because there was a horse on the cover of the first book. Within a week, I'd read every Tamora Pierce book in print, and spent the next few years gleefully anticipating each further release. I lost interest in her new stories a few quartets later, but the early two are as familiar to me as my siblings and my teddy bear (and considerably more portable). And yesterday I realized how much Alanna (heroine of Song of the Lioness), looks like Christina Hendricks on the covers of her books (at least the editions I have, which I think are the best). You learn something new every day. [Photo]