13 August 2011

NPR's Top 100 SF/F Books (with comments)

Meme from Random Michelle:

bold – I’ve read it

italic – started and abandoned

bold/italic - read one book in the series and liked it but didn't like the series as a whole or abandoned it (my addition to the grading system)

**made my top 10 SF/F list of books


  1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien – I finished the first book and got about halfway through the second before I gave up. Never opened the third one. Yes, I know, I’m a heretic.

  2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams – I even own a copy in Italian (which I can’t read)

  3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

  4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert – I loved the first couple. After that: yuck!

  5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin – The first one in this series was a wall-banger for me: I got to a point in the book that really really annoyed me, so I threw it at the wall. I never finished it.

  6. 1984, by George Orwell – Required reading in high school. I didn't like it, mostly because I don't like dystopias.

  7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury – I own it, does that count?

  8. **The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

  9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley –– Required reading in high school. Have I mentioned that I don't like dystopias?

  10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman – I own it, does that count?

  11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman – I love the movie, but not the book.

  12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan – I read the couple of books then simply got bored. Never revisited the series and don’t plan to.

  13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell – It was okay.

  14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson – read it on recommendation of a friend and liked it. Not inclined to read cyberpunk, as a rule.

  15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

  16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

  17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein – I read it when I was about 13, and I really had no idea what the hell it was about. A later reread was far more worthwhile.

  18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss- I own the first one (The Name of the Wind), does that count?

  19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

  20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley – I own it, does that count?

  21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick

  22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood – I still don’t like dystopias.

  23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King

  24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

  25. The Stand, by Stephen King

  26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson – I own it, does that count?

  27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury – I own it, does that count?

  28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

  29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman – I own it, does that count?

  30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess

  31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein – read it as a teenager and skipped over a lot of the philosophy. I reread it occasionally now and actually enjoy those parts. Go figure.

  32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

  33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey – I loved the Pern series through "The White Dragon", then wondered what happened

  34. **The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein – Sort of the libertarian's manifesto in SF novel form. I'm not a libertarian, but I do adore this book.

  35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller – I still don’t like dystopias.

  36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells – I didn’t really like it

  37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

  38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys – required reading in high school (hated it). Reread it within the last year and got teary.

  39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

  40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny – I enjoyed these and wish he had written more

  41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings – Read this series a few years ago and liked the first one, then was under-impressed with the subsequent ones. Didn’t prevent me from finishing the series (6 books, right?)

  42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

  43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson – I think I have the first one somewhere

  44. **Ringworld, by Larry Niven – oh yes, a top 10.

  45. **The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin – I read this one when I was too young to understand it but was still blown away by it.

  46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien – nope, sorry.

  47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

  48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

  49. **Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke – This book literally stunned me when I read it (13 or 14?). I’ve never been able to bring myself to read it again, but I put it in my top 10.

  50. Contact, by Carl Sagan – I own it, does that count?

  51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons

  52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman – really liked this one

  53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson – I own it, does that count?

  54. World War Z, by Max Brooks – Michelle hates zombies. So do I (they have no brains, so of course I hate them...)

  55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

  56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman – yes, another really, really good book.

  57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett – I’ve tried this one a couple of times but never felt the love

  58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson – Yes, I finished the series. By the end I was probably thinking "these are hours of my life I’ll never get back" but I had to know how it ended. Ask me now how the series ended and I couldn’t tell you.

  59. **The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold – My favorite series of books. Period. I think the Vorkosiverse numbers 16 books now, and I not only buy them faithfully, I buy 'em in hardcover.

  60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett – More Discworld. I just don’t get Discworld.

  61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle – in my top 20. I reread it every few years.

  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 -- This confused me at first, because I was mixing it up with My Name Is Legion by Roger Zelazny

  66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist – one of those never-ending fantasy series

  67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks – Yuck. Yuck. Did I mention yuck?

  68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

  69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb – I tend to get bored by sweeping epic fantasy.

  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 – I really like this series.

  75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

  76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

  77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey – I tried the first one, got about 50 pages in and said to myself "I’d rather spend my time clipping my toenails…".

  78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin – I own it, does that count?

  79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury – I own it, does that count?

  80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

  81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson

  82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde – I really enjoyed this book and seriously disliked the 2nd one. I think I own the 3rd one but am not interested in trying it.

  83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks – I loved "The Player of Games", a novel in this series, but haven’t tried any of the others. I’m thinking I should.

  84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart – Not my favorite in this series. I liked the 3rd book (The Hollow Hills) much more.

  85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

  86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher – I liked the first couple of books in this series a lot and stuck it out to the end, though I found the last one derivative and boring.

  87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

  88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

  89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan – I liked the first book and maybe the second and faltered on the 3rd.

  90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock

  91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury – I own it, does that count?

  92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

  93. **A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge – Oh yes! You should read this one. At least twice.

  94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov – definitely a top 20 for me, though not quite top 10 (at least the day that I voted)

  95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson – I liked Red Mars and couldn't get into the 2nd one. Might have to give it another try.

  96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle – Really like this one and reread it occasionally. Has one of my favorite scenes in all of SF: some crazy guy surfing a tsunami into LA…

  97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis – This isn’t my favorite of hers (Bellwether is), but I’d put it in my top 20.

  98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville – Couldn’t finish it, but don't ask me why.

  99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony – I tried one of these and couldn't get into it.

  100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

7 of my top 10 made this list (Childhood's End, The Vorkosigan saga, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Ringworld, A Fire Upon The Deep, The Left Hand Of Darkness).

I've read 39/100 (either the book named or the entire series), partially completed 5 series (and liked at least one of the books), and disliked 9/100 books or series enough not to finish at all. That's a total of 53/100, which is less than I expected. Clearly, I have some reading to do.

The 3 books that I voted for that didn't make the top 100 were The Sparrow (Doria Russell), The Swordspoint Trilogy (Ellen Kushner), and The Uplift Saga (David Brin).

1 comment:

Warner said...

I would not consider A Canticle for Leibowitz a dystopia, new word for me.

Yes it is set in a monastery, over the course of centuries if not millennia, but I never found the rules to do more than form a background. This is an order dedicated to preserving books at the cost of martyr-dom if needed.

The Wandering Jew as a main character is also interesting.