Amazon’s 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime
I really appreciated that Amazon sent me an e-mail on this one! For some reason, I’m not seeing a press release, so this definitely gave me a needed heads up.
Amazon has done their latest list of “Books to Read in a Lifetime”, and I figured I would have read pretty much all of the “Science Fiction & Fantasy Books”**. 🙂
While I do think of myself as an eclectic reader, that wasn’t always really the case. I used to read a lot (a lot!) of SF&F.
After I became the manager of a brick and mortar bookstore, though, I made a conscious effort to broaden my reading. I encouraged (not required) my employees to read a book from every section in the store…and I did that myself.
I suppose the fact that I haven’t read as many as I had anticipated has to do with the chronological distribution.
However, it may have to do with the selection as well. 🙂
I would certainly recommend some others…that’s not to say that these aren’t all worthy: as I mentioned, I haven’t read quite a few of these.
First, here’s the list on Amazon:
Second, Amazon was also nice enough to include a table for me of the list…I added a column to indicate whether or not I have read it.
|1949||1984 (Signet Classics)||George Orwell||Yes|
|2001: a Space Odyssey||Arthur C. Clarke||Yes|
|1960||A Canticle for Leibowitz||Walter M. Miller Jr.||No|
|1996||A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)||George R. R. Martin||Yes|
|1968||A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle)||Ursula K. Le Guin||Yes|
|1962||A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet)||Madeleine L’Engle||Yes|
|2003||Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs Novels)||Richard K. Morgan||No|
|2001||American Gods||Neil Gaiman||No|
|2011||Among Others (Hugo Award Winner – Best Novel)||Jo Walton||No|
|2013||Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch)||Ann Leckie||No|
|2014||Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy)||Jeff VanderMeer||No|
|Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1)||Robin Hobb||Yes|
|1985||Blood Music||Greg Bear||No|
|1932||Brave New World||Aldous Huxley||Yes|
|1953||Childhood’s End||Arthur C. Clarke||Yes|
|2004||Cloud Atlas: A Novel||David Mitchell||No|
|1998||Daughter of the Blood (Black Jewels, Book 1)||Anne Bishop||No|
|1975||Dhalgren||Samuel R. Delany||Yes|
|1968||Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?||Philip K. Dick||Yes|
|1992||Doomsday Book||Connie Willis||No|
|1968||Dragonflight (Dragonriders of Pern – Volume 1)||Anne McCaffrey||Yes|
|1985||Ender’s Game (The Ender Quintet)||Orson Scott Card||Yes|
|1953||Fahrenheit 451||Ray Bradbury||Yes|
|1994||Foreigner: (10th Anniversary Edition)||C. J. Cherryh||No|
|1990||Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch||Neil Gaiman||No|
|1989||Grass||Sheri S. Tepper||No|
|2002||Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Book 1)||Laurell K. Hamilton||Yes|
|2005*||H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America)||H. P. Lovecraft||Yes|
|1997||Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone||J.K. Rowling||Yes|
|2010||How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel||Charles Yu||No|
|1986||Howl’s Moving Castle||Diana Wynne Jones||No|
|1989||Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos)||Dan Simmons||No|
|1954||I Am Legend||Richard Matheson||Yes|
|1950||I, Robot||Isaac Asimov||Yes|
|1976||Interview with the Vampire||Anne Rice||Yes|
|2004||Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel||Susanna Clarke||No|
|2003||Kindred||Octavia E. Butler||Yes|
|2001||Kushiel’s Dart (Kushiel’s Legacy)||Jacqueline Carey||No|
|1977||Lord Foul’s Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book 1)||Stephen R. Donaldson||No|
|1984||Nights at the Circus||Angela Carter||No|
|2005||Old Man’s War||John Scalzi||No|
|1982||Pawn of Prophecy (Belgariad)||David Eddings||Yes|
|2000||Perdido Street Station||China Miéville||No|
|2011||Ready Player One: A Novel||Ernest Cline||Yes|
|1993||Red Mars (Mars Trilogy)||Kim Stanley Robinson||No|
|2014||Red Rising||Pierce Brown||No|
|1976||Riddle-Master||Patricia A. McKillip||No|
|1970||Ringworld (A Del Rey book)||Larry Niven||Yes|
|1995||Sabriel (Old Kingdom)||Garth Nix||No|
|2009||Sandman Slim: A Novel||Richard Kadrey||No|
|1992||Snow Crash||Neal Stephenson||No|
|1959||Starship Troopers||Robert A. Heinlein||Yes|
|2010||Stories of Your Life and Others||Ted Chiang||No|
|1961||Stranger in a Strange Land||Robert A. Heinlein||Yes|
|1983||The Color of Magic (Discworld)||Terry Pratchett||No|
|2001||The Curse of Chalion (Chalion series)||Lois McMaster Bujold||No|
|1984||The Dark is Rising (The Dark is Rising Sequence)||Susan Cooper||No|
|1974||The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle)||Ursula K. Le Guin||Yes|
|1988||The Dragonbone Chair: Book One of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn||Tad Williams||No|
|1990||The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1)||Robert Jordan||No|
|1974||The Forever War||Joe Haldeman||No|
|1995||The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials||Philip Pullman||Yes|
|2013||The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel (P.S.)||Helene Wecker||No|
|1982||The Gunslinger: (The Dark Tower #1)(Revised Edition)||Stephen King||No|
|1990||The Handmaid’s Tale||Margaret Atwood||No|
|1979||The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy||Douglas Adams||Yes|
|1937||The Hobbit||J. R. R. Tolkien||Yes|
|2008||The Hunger Games (Book 1)||Suzanne Collins||Yes|
|1968||The Last Unicorn||Peter S. Beagle||Yes|
|1969||The Left Hand of Darkness (Ace Science Fiction)||Ursula K. Le Guin||Yes|
|1984||The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2)||C. S. Lewis||Yes|
|1954||The Lord of the Rings: 50th Anniversary, One Vol. Edition||J.R.R. Tolkien||Yes|
|2009||The Magicians: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy)||Lev Grossman||No|
|2014||The Martian||Andy Weir||Yes|
|1950||The Martian Chronicles||Ray Bradbury||Yes|
|1983||The Mists of Avalon||Marion Zimmer Bradley||Yes|
|2007||The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle)||Patrick Rothfuss||No|
|1987||The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure||William Goldman||Yes|
|2009||The Road||Cormac McCarthy||No|
|2012||The Rook: A Novel||Daniel O’Malley||No|
|1996||The Sparrow: A Novel (Ballantine Reader’s Circle)||Mary Doria Russell||No|
|2003||The Speed of Dark (Ballantine Reader’s Circle)||Elizabeth Moon||No|
|1956||The Stars My Destination||Alfred Bester||Yes|
|1977||The Sword of Shannara||Terry Brooks||No|
|1895||The Time Machine||H. G. Wells||Yes|
|2003||The Time Traveler’s Wife||Audrey Niffenegger||No|
|2010||The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The)||Brandon Sanderson||No|
|2009||The Windup Girl||Paolo Bacigalupi||No|
|1870||Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea||Jules Verne||Yes|
|2006||World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War||Max Brooks||No|
One of the first things that stands out to me is the lack of books that are putatively for children. No Oz? No Wind in the Willows?
Second, and it’s understandable, it looks like it’s one book per author. 🙂
I may add to this post later (have to start my two hour commute this morning). 🙂 I’m hoping to be able to give you a little more insight into the list, but before I do…here are a few I might have included (sticking to my presumed rule above, one book per author):
- The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney
- The Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum (I think the Wizard of Oz is actually the one in the series I like the least)
- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (illustrated by Jules Feiffer)
- Stormbringer by Michael Moorcock (not sure if that’s necessarily the Elric of Melniboné book I’d pick but it’s the first one that comes to mind…and Elric would be included)
Hm…interesting to me that actual science fiction novels aren’t coming to mind first as much as fantasy. That might be because of how I’m reacting to the list.
What do you think? How many have you read? What would you include? What do you think of their selections? If you had questions to ask of the editors who compiled the list, what would they be? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
Update: an earlier version of this post mistakenly thought they limited the list to books published in 1949 and later, because that was the first year in the first column. 🙂 Sorry about that…it’s not sorted by date.
Update: I want to thank my readers, and apologize to them at the same time. 🙂 I sent this post out this morning when it was half-baked: certainly, the sloppiest post in the more than six years that I’ve been doing ILMK. There were some mitigating factors, but that’s not important. The main thing is that my readers kindly pointed out true deficiencies in the post, and I have improved it because of that. Thanks, readers!
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.
** For my take on science fiction and fantasy genre definitions, see Content, tone, or intent: what makes a genre?
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.