I’ve been an avid reader since I was about 4 when my Mum taught me to read. The whole family read; we’d go to the library and pick up 40 books to last us for the three weeks until the next visit to town.
I remember my first science fiction book, The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold. It dealt with the paradoxes of time travel in a way that made my 14-year-old brain spark and fizz. I’ve loved the genre ever since and have inhaled whatever I could get my hands on, from 50’s pulp story collections to classics.
I found a copy of the Man Who Folded Himself last year; it does not hold up that well. Like watching The World of Oz as a drug-free adult, it’s not nearly as good as I remember it.
Last year, NPR created a list of the Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy books through nominations and votes. I saved it on Evernote, thinking to get back to it, but school started and it drifted to the bottom of the priority pile. However, I have a blissfully empty summer ahead of me so I thought it was a good time to revisit the list and fill in the missing pieces.
Out of this list of 100 books, there are 29 books that I know for sure I haven’t read. The remaining 71 contains books that I love dearly and revisit often (anything with an *), books that changed my way of thinking (Brave New World, 1984) and books that illustrated and cemented my core values. I remember getting so pissed off with Asimov’s future when I was reading the Foundation Trilogy; such rich male characters as leaders, such weak secondary female characters as teachers and wives. Why aren’t there brilliant women scientists in the future?, I thought.
There are also books that I’ve read because I’d heard that they were good and that they should be read. Lord of the Rings falls in that category; yes it was good, but a bit tedious, and I never have to go back there again. There are books noted on the list where I’ve read part of a series. I’m going to finish some of them, but there are a few series that filled me with enough meh that I have zero intention of getting the rest of the books. Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth and Shannara Trilogy will have to go on without me.
Just so you know, I am one of those people that finishes books. There are maybe 20 books that I haven’t finished and will never finish. The Road is one of them. Honestly, I was a bit surprised to find it on this list. I just didn’t think it was that good. I know everyone was going gaga over it, but frankly I’ve read better end-of-the-world stories.
And there are 7 books that I think I’ve read before but I’m not sure, and reading the synopsis didn’t trigger memories. I’m going to add them to To Be Read pile anyway. What will likely happen is I will buy/borrow it, read half of the first chapter and the rest will surface from some deep recess in my brain.
So, here’s my slightly over-ambitious project. I’m going to start with the books in red and green first, in no particular order. Then I’ll hit the blue ones, which will take me a while as I’ve only read 2 of the 16 books in the Vorkosigan Saga and 2 of 9 of the Culture series.
Which is not to say that I won’t reread American Gods or Neuromancer if the mood strikes.
The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy , by J.R.R. Tolkien *The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin *1984, by George Orwell *Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov *Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley *American Gods, by Neil Gaiman *The Princess Bride, by William Goldman The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan *Animal Farm, by George Orwell *Neuromancer, by William Gibson Watchmen, by Alan Moore I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick *The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood *The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke *The Stand, by Stephen King *Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury– finished July 10 Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein Watership Down, by Richard Adams Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
- Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
- The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
- The Belgariad, by David Eddings
*The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
- Ringworld, by Larry Niven:
The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien *The Once And Future King, by T.H. White *Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
- Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
- Contact, by Carl Sagan
The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons *Stardust, by Neil Gaiman Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson World War Z, by Max Brooks
- The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
- The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
- The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind The Road, by Cormac McCarthy Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
- The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
- The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
- The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
- The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
- Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
- The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
- The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks *The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
- The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
- The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
- The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
*The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury Sunshine, by Robin McKinley A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
- The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
- Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
- The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis