Sunday, August 28, 2011

That reading meme that's going around

I guess I'll jump on the bandwagon. Most recently seen at Painted Ocean. This is a list of "essential science fiction & fantasy books" or something like that, thought up by NPR listeners.

Anytime I come across a book list, I always remember how I met Brer, which you can read about here. Anyway, titles in bold are the ones I've read.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Of course, plus The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and a few others by him.
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
Never read any of the posthumous publications by his son.
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
I did buy this book, but I just never got around to reading it.
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
And several other books by him. I liked the Valis Trilogy better than this book, actually.
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
I've never read any of his stuff except for a collection of short stories called Nightshift.
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
Never got around to reading the sequel.
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
My favorite by Bradbury is Something Wicked This Way Comes.
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
I read this one twice through when I first bought it. The second time it went much better because I didn't have to keep looking up all those words as I was reading.
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
This was one of my favorite series when I was a teenager. Several years ago I read all of her dragon books (so far at that time) in chronological order. I keep them around because I think my daughter might enjoy them sometime in the next few years.
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
Another of my most favorite series'. I could read these again someday.
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
OMG this series sucks. But I read the whole thing, once upon a time.
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
Plus the sequel. Where there more than two? I never read any others, but I did like the first two.
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
The whole trilogy.
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
I've read a lot of his stuff, but I don't think I've read this one.
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
Another favorite from long ago. Still wondering if I should try reading the recent new additions to the series.
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
Another one that sucked. But I think I read the whole trilogy.
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
A couple of stories, but the whole series? What are you, crazy?
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
See above.
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
Oh man this is the first book of one of the best series I have ever read. It makes me weep that so few fantasy readers have even heard of it. The first three books are told in first person by Merlin, the fourth book told in third person about the events that happened after Merlin's disappearance. Definitely the best depiction of Merlin I have ever read.
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
My favorite of the Eternal Champions is Corum. I've also read the Hawkmoon series, The Dancers at the End of Time trilogy, and one or two Erekosë books.
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven &Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
The first couple, but not the whole series.
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis
Albatross said he had never heard of this until I wrote about it. I must confess I had never heard of it until Brer told me about it, many years ago. In fact, I'm pretty sure the first time I read it, I was reading the books he'd loaned me.


I'm thinking if McCaffrey's dragonbooks got on this list, then why the heck aren't Katherine Kurtz's Deryni books on it? WTF?! And where the h*** is the Spellsinger series!!! (just kidding, Brer) But seriously, there are other books that I think are better than some listed here. For example, The Four Lords of the Diamond by Jack L. Chalker. And honestly, I'm getting tired of the hip reading public acting like Electric Sheep is the only thing Dick ever wrote. What about The Man in the High Castle or The Penultimate Truth? Or the Valis Trilogy, like I mentioned? Valis especially gives a better glimpse into the mind of the author than anything else he ever wrote. And Lovecraft. Lovecraft? you say. Yes, Lovecraft. If the frikkin' Belgariad was good enough to make it, then At the Mountains of Madness should definitely be on here. Although I have never seen it in a stand-alone volume, it is long enough to be published on its own. And it has plenty of sci-fi elements that make it both a work of horror and a work of science fiction.


  1. 44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
    Plus the sequel. Where there more than two? I never read any others, but I did like the first two.

    Yes, there were two more: The Ringworld Throne and Ringworld's Children. If you liked the first two, you should like these. Especially Throne.

    It has vampires!

    As for your assessment of Philip K. Dick, I heartily agree. I love Electric Sheep, but there's a lot more that he wrote that should be required reading for sci-fi majors. (I just made up that college degree. I wish it existed. It might, somewhere, but right now I think it's just in my mind.)

  2. Did you copy that list by hand? I am impressed! I don't know if I would have the patience to, but I would like to run through it myself. As to the contents themselves, there is an old saying that, in literature as in love, one is always surprised what others have chosen.

  3. Oh no, I copied and pasted it and then edited it.