I'm really glad to see this thread. He's one of my favorite authors, when I'm in the mood for him. A common question with de Lint's work is where to start. In case anyone here is wondering, here's my response, which I keep handy for such opportunities:
I was a member of Charles de Lint's yahoo group for several years. I originally joined it to get an answer to the question: where to start with the Newford books? After weighing many considered opinions, I prefer this order for the beginning: first, Dreams Underfoot and then, Someplace To Be Flying, and then resume de Lint's own recommended order. DU is a short story collection, but his short stories are loved by most people who hate short stories. STBF will let you meet the famous Crow Girls and most of the main shape-shifter residents of Newford.
His standalone novels, such as Moonheart and The Little Country, are memorable too.
The official answer from his website is:
The books have all been written in such a way that you should be able to pick up any one and get a full and complete story. However, characters do reoccur, off center stage as it were, and their stories do follow a sequence. The best place to start is the collection Dreams Underfoot. From there they go pretty much in this order:
The Dreaming Place
A Whisper To A Scream (originally credited to "Samuel M. Key")
I'll Be Watching You (originally credited to "Samuel M. Key")
Memory And Dream
The Ivory And The Horn
Someplace To Be Flying
Moonlight And Vines
Forests Of The Heart
The Onion Girl
Seven Wild Sisters (also available in Tapping the Dream Tree)
Tapping the Dream Tree
Spirits in the Wires
The Blue Girl
The Dreaming Place and The Blue Girl are YA novels. A Whisper To A Scream and I'll Be Watching You are, respectively, a horror novel and a thriller; they're darker fare than the other Newford books and aren't really that integral to the underlying, ongoing backstory that takes place off center stage in so many of the books and stories.