Reading List

Now for something completely different.

The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002, with those I’ve read boldfaced and those I want to read italicized, and with comments on some of the books:

  1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien —- I love it, but I’m conflicted as to it’s worth (though not in the same way most people are about it)
  2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
  3. Dune, Frank Herbert —- A friend of mine keeps telling me to read these, I should probably do so eventually
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
  5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin —- I checked this out of the library once, but never got around to reading it
  6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
  7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
  8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
  9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
  10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury —- I didn’t really like it, honestly.
  11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe —- I’ve never read anything by Gene Wolfe, but I want to.
  12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr. —- My favorite post-apocalyptic book ever. That’s not saying a whole lot, but…
  13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
  14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
  15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
  16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett —- I have never been moved to read Terry Pratchett. Should I be?
  17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
  18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
  19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
  20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
  21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card —- I recently reread it, I liked it better this time around.
  23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
  24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
  25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
  26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling —- I don’t hate Harry Potter, but it seems vastly overrated, and no way does it deserve to be #26 on this list. It probably shouldn’t even be on it.
  27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
  30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
  31. Little, Big, John Crowley
  32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
  33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
  34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
  35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
  36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
  37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
  38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
  39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
  40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
  41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien —- This is my favorite book, hands down. If you hadn’t figured that out yet.
  42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut —- I don’t know if it’s any good, but I do want to read it.
  43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
  44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
  45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
  46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
  47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
  48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
  49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
  50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

So, I’ve read 7 of them, and I want to read 4 more. That seems a bit low to me. I’m not quite sure why I’ve read so few of them. One reason would probably be that this list is sci-fi dominated, it seems to me at least, and I’m not such a fan of that genre (I like it, but I don’t read a whole lot of it).

But maybe it’s just that I’m lazy and need to read more. That can’t be it, though… I read as much as I could be expected to, probably more. It’s probably more like I try to find only the best in these genres and read them, and also spend a lot of time reading other stuff (like Flannery O’Connor and Sigrid Undset) and reading literary criticism instead of literature itself (which is certainly a worthwhile use of time).

Also, I just realized what I find wrong with this list – it includes no C.S. Lewis on it. I suppose the Space Trilogy was published in the 1930s and ’40s, so it was too early. But I personally would have put Till We Have Faces on the list.

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