“Light Years” & “The Mists of Avalon”

by Lauren Alwan & Sharon Browning

Welcome to LitStack Recs! We’ve got two fantastic recommendations that are sure to pique your interest. “This Mists of Avalon” and “Light Years.” Grab your TBR list and get ready to discover some exciting new additions for your personal collection. Let’s dive right in and explore these must-have items! Happy shopping!

The Mists of Avalon and Light Years

You can find and buy the books we recommend at the LitStack Bookshop on our list of LitStack Recs.

The Mists of Avalon

Light Years by James Salter

First published in 1975, this novel is considered among the most enduring of Salter’s novels. Known for the beauty of his sentences, ones that Jhumpa Lahiri called “so precise, so clean, so fervent and yet so calm,” Salter is the kind of writer whose prose is singular and satisfying to the degree that it can become addictive.

Of Salter, Nick Paumgarten wrote in the New Yorker:

Among many writers, and some literary people, James Salter is venerated for his sentence-making, his observational powers, his depictions of sex and valor, and a pair of novels that, in spite of thin sales and obscure subject matter, have more than a puncher’s chance at permanence.

Light Years, his second novel (the first, A Sport and a Pastime, was published in 1967 and a third, All That Is, was released last year), centers on the marriage of Nedra and Viri, a well-educated and chic couple who live in a ranging house by the river outside of New York City. Viri is architect and Nedra a glamorous, intense woman, a wife and mother who is creative and inspired—she makes handmade decorations for her children’s birthdays and beautiful dinner parties for their friends. As captivating as their charmed life seems, the book is, in a way, about unhappiness. For Nedra and Viri, this brand of unhappiness isn’t apparent until it dismantles the time and place of their lives. As it unfolds, Salter takes his time to show what Nedra and Viri share: their children, their house, the changing seasons, the chickens in the greenhouse, the dog, the snow, the parties and the long conversations over drinks or dinner. And eventually, he exposes the deep and contradictory yearnings of love and attachment.

—Lauren Alwan

Other Titles by James Salter


The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

It’s March, and along with NCAA basketball, that means it’s Women’s History Month. While I’m not one who generally jumps on parade floats for any particular cause, as a woman and as the mother of a daughter who is blossoming into her own independent woman, I do have a vested interest in making sure that women have the recognition – and the opportunities – that they deserve. While I was mulling this over the other day, I started to think of books I had read that had given me a sense of a female centric ethos, that gave me examples of what it might be like to live amongst strong women who determined their own future. It’s not that my mother was not strong, and beautiful and amazing, but she did live in the shadow of my father – and that’s where she wanted to be and she thrived there (and he always treated her like an equal, to be honest). But just who were my affirming literary female role models?


The one book I kept coming back to was Marion Zimmer Bradley’s masterpiece, “The Mists of Avalon”. This retelling of the Arthurian legend through the eyes of women – specifically Morgaine (often known as Morgan le Fay) and Gwenhwyfar (the Welsh spelling of Guinevere) impressed me deeply when I read it way back in 1983. While the classic tale remains pretty much untouched, the feminine focus allows what is normally a story full of bluster and battle to become one where the conflict is fleshed out with respect for all sides, and humanizes the characters so as to make them far less archetypical, and therefore, more real and believable.

To recognize the role that women take in our great stories, and to see the world through their eyes, especially when told with such care and beauty as is done in the “Mists of Avalon”, is, in my mind, a wonderful way to celebrate our modern Women’s History Month.

Sharon Browning

Other Titles by Marion Zimmer Bradley


Other LitStack Resources

Be sure and look at our other LitStack Recs for our recommendations on books you should read, as well as these reviews by Lauren Alwan, and these reviews by Sharon Browning.

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The Mists of Avalon

You can find and buy the books we recommend at the LitStack Bookshop on our list of LitStack Recs.

The Mists of Avalon

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1 comment

Judy Lovely 20 March, 2014 - 9:10 am

I borrowed the audio book recordings of The Mists of Avalon from my library a few years ago…it came in 4 parts. I totally loved it and recommend to everyone. I’ve notice that most of the time when I’m checking out an audio book, at least one if not more of the parts is checked out so it is very popular here as well. I love the Arthurian legend and especially this one from the female POV. Highly recommend.

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