Aspiring Writer and Book Blogger Kris Keegan did it, so I thought a list of my own top genre books would be fun. I am not listing these in any particular order. And where series are involved, I just list the series rather than individual books. But this is a list of books with great meaning to me. Unlike the NPR list which was definitely flawed, this one reflects the books which changed my life in many ways. Some because they opened my mind to new possibilities. Some because they were such a ball. Others for philosophical or craft reasons. In any case, it’s a personal list. I’m sure many of your favorites might be missing and some listed you might question. Feel free to recommend books for future reading in comments.
1) The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
2) The Chronicles Of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
3) The Majipoor series by Robert Silverberg
4) The First Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
5) A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin
6) The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov
7) Animal Farm by George Orwell
8 ) Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
9) The Psalms of Isaak by Ken Scholes
10) The Greywalker books by Kat Richardson
11) The Thrawn Books by Timothy Zahn
12) Splinter Of A Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster
13) Death Of A Starship by Jay Lake
14) The Quadrail Series by Timothy Zahn
15) Deadman Switch by Timothy Zahn
16) The Retrieval Artist series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
17) The War of The Worlds by HG Wells
18 ) 20000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne
19) The Chronicle Of A Distant World series by Mike Resnick
20) The Falling Machine by Andrew Mayer
21) The Unremembered by Peter Orullian
22) Black Blade Blues by John A. Pitts
23) V: East Coast Crisis by A.C. Crispin & Howard Weinstein
24) Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
25) The Ender books by Orson Scott Card
26) The Eye Of The World by Robert Jordan
27) Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell
28 ) Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
29) The Time Machine by HG Wells
30) Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne
31) The Elenium by David Eddings
32) The Tamuli by David Eddings
33) Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick
34) A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo
35) The Sherlock Holmes books by Arthur Conan Doyle
36) Tarzan Of The Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
37) Nightfall by Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg
38 ) Ivory by Mike Resnick
39) The Outpost by Mike Resnick
40) Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
41) Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
42) Diving Into The Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
43) Mainspring by Jay Lake
44) The Secret Of Sinharat by Leigh Brackett
45) Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson
46) Deceived by Paul S. Kemp
47) The Skylark of Space by Edward E. Smith
48 ) Thinner by Richard Bachman
49) The Stand by Stephen King
50) Starship Troopers by Robert Heilein
51) Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice
52) Brasyl by Ian McDonald
53) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
54) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
55) Misery by Stephen King
56) Watership Down by Richard Adams
57) Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
58 ) The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
59) Firestarter by Stephen King
60) This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti
61) Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado
62) Jaws by Peter Benchley
63) The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
64) The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales
65) A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
66) The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
67) Steampunk Prime edited by Mike Ashley
68 ) The Tales of Uncle Remus
69) Spellwright by Blake Charlton
70) Black Halo by Sam Sykes
I am stopping at 70 for various reasons. For one, I really have fallen behind in reading classics and keeping up with a lot of other genre fiction. For years I focused on nonfiction research during my masters and other genres as well. So, while I read a lot in my youth and in the past three years, my reading pile occupies most of my bookshelves and I am way behind. But these are the books I remember most fondly of those I’ve read. They are certainly not all. And I will revise and add to this as time goes on. Which are your favorites? What would your list include? Feel free to post in comments. I’d love to hear them.
14 thoughts on “70 Most Memorable Science Fiction & Fantasy Books I’ve Read (to date)”
Hey, it’s nice to get a real live pingback on my book blog. I’ll have to look at some of the books you have on your list that I’m not familiar with.
But I feel a need to point out that I’m actually not an author, though I do suffer from the fiction-writing habit, in the form resulting in opus nevercompletus. (I really like the idea I’m playing with now, but that’s no guarantee I’ll get any further than 30,000 words (my max so far). Oh well.)
“Book blogger” will do fine as a descriptor, thanks!
Modification made, but I added Aspiring Author.
I am a big fan of the unqualified list. I often write this kind of thing myself, and found your list to be quite similar in taste to my own, while giving me quite a bit of stuff to look out for.
I am a massive ‘New Space Opera’ head, so I would like to recommend a few things that I think you might enjoy. Please bear in mind, however, that these recommendations are opinion, not fact.
Firstly, the ‘Culture’ series by Iain M. Banks, which is on a par with Tolkien in terms of literary brilliance. Banks’ world building and vision are so exciting to read, and he’s also a massive openly leftist utopian thinker, so right up my alley. These books, beginning with Consider Plebas, were like reading the future history of the ideal, ultimate human future, where everything goes perfectly in our favour, even when it goes a bit (and sometimes alot) wonky.
Secondly, I strongly suggest you read the works of both Paul McAuley (particularly Gardens of the Sun) and Alastair Reynolds. Brilliant craftsmen and beautiful visions of human potential, despite being quite dark in places.
Finally, in an effort to not turn this comment in an essay, might I suggest the ‘Polity’ books by Neal Asher? These are just straight up, dirty, gritty, splattery, hilarious, fun adventure stories, built to entertain and excite the reader with the joy of sheer possibility. Special mention goes to a short story called “Softly Spake the Gabbleduck,” which had me howling with unrestrained joy. I stronly dislike the man and his politics, but his fiction is some of the best fun I’ve had in my life.
I turned your list into a spreadsheet and ticked off the books on your list that I have read and thought to be ‘important.’ We’re matched on 39 (How good was Steampunk Prime????), 4 I didn’t like (I stronly disliked ‘The Screwtape Letters’ and I struggled with forcing myself on through George Martin and Stephen Donaldson), the rest I haven’t read. Damnit, now there’s an extra 27 books/series on my ‘interested’ list.
My actual ‘To Read’ pile is already 35 books high….
HOORAY FOR BOOKS!
Thanks for the comments and recommendations. I have some Asher and I have Reynolds’ space opera trilogy on my shelves. Will get to them. I am very backed up but trying to focus on space opera whenever I can. Banks I’ll get added. I like Donaldson and Martin, despite Martin’s vulgarity and penchant for over the top violence and sex. I like “Screwtape Letters” for its theological aspects, but I am Christian so it’s probably not for everyone. My to read pile is about 250 books high, and I have books I MUST read for my twitter chat. Those come first. Others I MUST read for research. Slowly but surely working my way through. Thanks again for taking the time to dialogue about it. I’d welcome any further thoughts.
Forgot to address Steampunk Prime. Steampunk Prime was a blast flashback to the writings of Verne and Wells. Written by their contemporaries, it however suffered from some of the worst copyediting I have ever seen. Looking past that, though, and the stereotypes of the age, the assumptions, etc., I enjoyed many of the stories. Not all, but many. I actually reviewed it for Tangent Online with thoughts on each story.
It’s my fault, I think, Kris, since I promoted your post on Twitter and Bryan likely saw it there. 🙂
I can’t remember whose Twitter I saw it on but I definitely discovered it via Twitter.
I enjoyed your list and was surprised to not see the books by Patrick Rothfuss on there – they are so good and I highly recommend them if you get the chance.
I own them. I have not read them yet. It takes forever to read all the epic fantasy books I have piled up. They are so thick, most of them, and, when you start one series, you hesitate to start another until you have read that series. Plus I read a book a week for the chat I host. So I have 200+ books yet to read.
Maybe he’ll have the third book finished by then, so you can read all three back to back to back. That would be epic for sure.
But you must read “New Dreams for Old” by Mike Resnick. It’s my favorite collection of his short stories.
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