This article series is an attempt to outline my perceptions of the fantasy genre as it seems from standing in front of the book shelf at a good book store. This is where I'm coming from: first, I skim over the titles on the shelf. I look for authors and books that seem interesting. Skim the back covers. Write them down, take them home, and look them up, usually on Amazon. Read through the reader's reviews, usually by starting with the lowest rated first. Occasionally look the author up in the amazing and indispensable The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. Consider adding it to my Amazon wishlist. If it was memorable enough, I might pick it up next time I'm at Powell's.
I might note briefly that I am usually only interested in actual fantasy, not sci-fi. Not speculative fiction. Not supernatural/horror.
So that's what this series of articles is all about. First, I'll note a few general trends and themes that have stuck out in the skimming I've done so far. Then I'll go through some individual authors. Finally, I'll rant about what I think needs to be written (and maybe take some of my own advice.)