Monday, April 25, 2011

100 All-Time Reads


“Meaningful” – fun, profound, emotional, witty, shocking, enjoyable, influential, transcendent, or transformative

In alphabetical order …

A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960) by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Apocalyptic science fiction, winner of 1961 Hugo Award

A Confederacy of Dunces (1980) by John Kennedy Toole
Comedic character study; winner of 1981 Pulitzer Prize

“A Day’s Wait” (1933) by Ernest Hemingway
Very touching and uncharacteristic short story from Hem

A Generation Removed (1977) by Gary K. Wolf
Futuristic dystopia of ageism taken too far

A Song of Ice and Fire (1996 - ?) by George R. R. Martin
Masterful gaggle of 1,000-page medievalish fantasy novels

A Wrinkle in Time (1962) by Madeleine L’Engle
Children’s science fiction / fantasy; winner of Newbery Medal

A Voyage for Madmen (2001) by Peter Nichols
Psychological study of an ocean circumnavigation race

A Voyage to Arcturus (1920) by David Lindsay
Surreally weird philosophical fantasy tale

Alien (1979) by Alan Dean Foster
Graphic novelization of the groundbreaking film

Atlas Shrugged (1957) by Ayn Rand
Philosophic novel espousing Objectivism

Awaken the Giant Within (1992) by Tony Robbins
Surprisingly effective self-help book

Beast (1991) by Peter Benchley
Effective beach and ocean horror tale

Beyond Ourselves (1962) by Catherine Marshall
Spiritual topics perfect for newbies

Burr (1973) by Gore Vidal
Entertaining if slanted historical tale with a powerful ending

Case Closed (1993) by Gerald Posner
Exact antithesis to Oliver Stone re: JFK; Pulitzer finalist

Cat’s Cradle (1963) by Kurt Vonnegut
Nice blend of science fiction, fantasy, comedy, and philosophy

The Children’s Bible
Mesmerized Little Me for hours at a time

Conquerors from the Darkness (1965) by Robert Silverberg
Swashbuckling science fiction tale

Diagrams for Living (1968) by Emmet Fox
A different way of interpreting various biblical stories

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987) by Douglas Adams
Second-funniest science fiction you’ll ever read

Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert
Classic world-builder SF; winner of Hugo and Nebula Awards

Eifelheim (2006) by Michael Flynn
Brilliant and touching mix of medievalism and SF; won a Hugo

Fahrenheit 451 (1953) by Ray Bradbury
Dystopic SF you read in high school; read it again

False Dawn (1978) by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Dystopic SF you didn’t read in high school; give it a shot

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (1987) by Susan Jeffers
Lotsa new insights on fear and how to overcome it

Floating Dragon (1982) by Peter Straub
Effective and very scary industrial horror

Foucault’s Pendulum (1989) by Umberto Eco
Superb send-up of the conspiracy mindset (or is it?)

From the Earth to the Moon (1865) by Jules Verne
Light-hearted and often slapstick Victorian adventure

Hocus Pocus (1990) by Kurt Vonnegut
Hilariously weird novel in one-page “chapters”

Hyperspace (1994) by Michio Kaku
Readable nonfiction about higher dimensions

Imagica (1991) by Clive Barker
Surreal yet gritty epic supernatural fantasy

In Dubious Battle (1936) by John Steinbeck
Exciting story and likeable characters overcome leftist ideology

Inside Music (1999) by Karl Haas
Solid introduction for the newbie to classical music

It (1986) by Stephen King
Epic, childhood horror; King’s mammoth magnum opus

Jurassic Park (1990) by Michael Crichton
Bioengineering horror / SF / adventure about Murphy’s Law

Justice and Her Brothers (1978) by Virginia Hamilton
Tween science fiction about telepathy and other worlds

Kidnapped (1886) by Robert Louis Stephenson
Readable, swashbuckling tale of camaraderie and revenge

Killerbowl (1975) by Gary K. Wolf
Futuristic football played with knives and guns; it works

Kim (1901) by Rudyard Kipling
Touching adventure tale and character study in British India

Life after Life (1975) by Raymond Moody
Convinced me of life after death, even before I was a Christian

Life of Christ (1958) by Fulton Sheen
Page-turning compare-and-contrast of aspects of the life of Jesus

Lives of the Composers (1970) by Harold Schonberg
Superb, concise background info for a classical music enthusiast

Logan’s Run (1967) by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
Dystopian science fiction where you only get to live to age 21

Lord of Light (1967) by Roger Zelazny
Epic SF/fantasy of Hindu pantheon; won Hugo Award

Medusa’s Children (1977) by Bob Shaw
Clever science fiction tale of sea monster hunting

Midnight (1989) by Dean R. Koontz
Intelligent mix of SF, mystery, and technological nastiness

Midworld (1975) by Alan Dean Foster
Lushly detailed science fiction

Nine Horrors and a Dream (1958) by Joseph Payne Brennan
Atmospheric and readable old-time tales of terror

Nine Tomorrows (1959) by Isaac Asimov
Best non-robot stories of all stripes SF

“On the Storm Planet” (1966) by Cordwainer Smith
Far-future novella of assassination, love, and bioengineering

Phantoms (1983) by Dean R. Koontz
When a master of horror uses the Blob as an antagonist

Red Planet (1949) by Robert Heinlein
Great juvenile tale of the settlement and revolt of Mars

Rendezvous with Rama (1972) by Arthur C. Clarke
Bland yet still fascinating exploration of a fantastic object

Sandkings (1981) by George R. R. Martin
Riveting and bloodcurdling science fiction short stories

Shardik (1974) by Richard Adams
World-building fantasy about a bear god and redemption

Siddhartha (1922) by Herman Hesse
Spiritual transcendence from an Eastern perspective

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) by Ray Bradbury
Lyrical fantasy with touches of genuine horror

Space Skimmer (1972) by David Gerrold
Imaginative far-future character study

Sphere (1987) by Michael Crichton
Good solve-this-mystery SF, exponentially better than the movie

Steppenwolf (1927) by Herman Hesse
Philosophical jigsaw puzzle about a split personality

Taking the Quantum Leap (1982) by Fred Alan Wolf
By far the best introduction to quantum mechanics

The Amityville Horror (1977) by Jay Anson
Scary, scary, scary modern haunted house horror

The Bad Place (1990) by Dean R. Koontz
Koontzian mystery mixing SF and psychotic killers

The Bible (TEV)
The greatest story ever told and changer of many, many lives

The Crystal Cave (1970) by Mary Stewart
Readable, exciting, personal account of the life of Merlin

The Dark Tower series (1982 - ?) by Stephen King
Melding of horror, fantasy, and western; earlier novels better

“The Death of Doctor Island” (1974) by Gene Wolfe
Bizarre in the best sense of the term

“The Death of Ivan Ilych” (1886) by Leo Tolstoy
Read this and then try to go back to living your life as usual

The Exorcist (1971) by William Peter Blatty
Scary, scary tale of real evil

The Forever War (1974) by Joe Haldeman
Vietnam in the far future meets relativity

The Fourth Dimension (1984) by Rudy Rucker
Best book for newbies on higher dimensionality

The God’s Themselves (1972) by Isaac Asimov
Uneven speculative SF, but what’s good is phenomenal

The Grayspace Beast (1976) by Gordon Eklund
Science fiction the way it oughta be

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (1979-1984) by Douglas Adams
Actually a five-book “trilogy”; the funniest SF you’ll ever read

The Hollow Hills (1983) by Mary Stewart
A continuation of Merlin’s life from The Crystal Cave

The Imitation of Christ (1418) by Thomas a Kempis
If you’re seeking the greatest of all attitude adjustments …

The Long Walk (1979) by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
Brutal tale that takes its toll on the reader

The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fantasy epic by which all others are measured

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1963) by Walter Tevis
Moving portrayal of a lonely lost alien

The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) by G. K. Chesterton
Surprisingly entertaining tale of anarchy and Christian allegory

The Martian Chronicles (1950) by Ray Bradbury
Groundbreaking poetic SF vignettes from one of the masters

“The Merchants of Venus” (1972) by Frederik Pohl
Near-futuristic novella spoofing capitalism and accidental revenge

The Mind Parasites (1967) by Colin Wilson
Half philosophic novel, half homage to H. P. Lovecraft

The Name of the Rose (1983) by Umberto Eco
Excellent philosophic medieval murder mystery

The Psychopath Plague (1978) by Steven G. Spruill
Imaginative and effective SF mystery

The Puppet Masters (1951) by Robert Heinlein
Definitive alien-invasion-by-stealth by a true master

The Razor’s Edge (1944) by W. Somerset Maugham
Disillusioned WWI vet heads East to find meaning

“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” (1936) by Ernest Hemingway
Ambiguous short story about gaining courage, however brief

The Spinner (1980) by Doris Piserchia
Spiderish alien brings a town to its knees

The Sum of All Fears (1991) by Tom Clancy
Intensely detailed and possibly prophetic terrorist scenario

The Time Swept City (1977) by Thomas F. Monteleone
Horror / SF tales of a city growing towards sentience

The Tommyknockers (1987) by Stephen King
King’s unique take on alien invasion-by-proxy

“The Wall” (1939) by Jean-Paul Sartre
Riveting short story of three men awaiting the firing squad

This Immortal (1966) by Roger Zelazny
Semi-apocalyptic SF; winner of Hugo Award

Watership Down (1972) by Richard Adams
Rabbits as epic geopolitical metaphor

Way of a Pilgrim (1884) by Anonymous
Influential spiritual tome on 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Weaveworld (1987) by Clive Barker
Brilliant supernatural fantasy; winner of World Fantasy Award

Whispers (1980) by Dean R. Koontz
Inexplicably explainable page-turning whodunit

Who Can Replace a Man? (1965) by Brian Aldiss
Bizarrely imaginative gritty science fiction tales

Without Remorse (1993) by Tom Clancy
Gripping revenge tale / backstory of CIA agent John Clark

The list may change on any given day, but 90-95 of these works will always be on it.

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