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I will only list books I like and recommend! While they aren’t all 5-Star books, they are books I remember well, and sometimes occasionally re-read. At the moment, the list is alphabetized by book author’s last name. This is distilled down from 67 years of life, and I started reading early. Which is why I so do not believe in the “Young Adult” category!
Abbreviations: GF = General Fiction. SF = Science Fiction.
- Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword. Fantasy
- Robert Asprin, Another Fine Myth. Fantasy. Actually a definitive part of my younger days, and led to a batch of friends I’ll never regret!
- Peter S. Beagle. The Last Unicorn. Fantasy.
- Fredrik Backman, A Man Named Ove. General Fiction (GF) One of the rare cases where both the book and the novel are excellent.
- Emma Bull. The War for the Oaks. Fantasy.
- Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower. Science Fiction (SF).
- Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents. SF
- L. Sprague de Camp, The Compleat Enchanter. Fantasy
- C.J. Cherryh, Rusalka. Fantasy.
- Tracy Chevalier, Girl with a Pearl Earing. Historical GF
- Arthur C. Clarke, Rendezvous with Rama, SF
- Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Fantasy, GF
- Susan Cooper, The Dark Is Rising series (5 books). Fantasy. Some place these in a “Young Adult” category, but as an early reader, I never understood that distinction.
- Avram Davidson, Magic for Sale. Fantasy shorts.
- Debra Dean, The Madonnas of Leningrad. GF, Historical novel, WWII
- Samuel R. Delany: Babel 17. SF. It uses an interesting concept regarding linguistics to solve an interstellar cultural problem.
- Philip K. Dick. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.
- Phillip K. Dick. Ubis.
- Philip K. DIck. Valis.
- Charles Dickens, Great Expectations. Classic. Frankly, it took YEARS for that image of that decaying wedding cake at the Habersham home to remove itself from my retinas when I went to sleep.
- Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See. GF, Historical Novel, WWII.
- Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo. Classic.
- Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose. Mystery, Classic.
- Ariana Franklin, Mistress of the Art of Death. Historical mystery. There are more mysteries after this, but she has sadly passed away, and the last novel that her heirs put together did not fill the promise.
- Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Fantasy. While he has other great books, this is my favorite to date of the non-graphic novel variety.
- William Gibson, Neuromancer. SF, classic cyberpunk.
- Seth Grahame-Smith, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Fantasy. This came with a new tablet account on Audible, and I would not have looked at it otherwise. This was actually really surprisingly good.
- William Goldman, The Princess Bride. Fantasy. Another book that was made into a movie that was at least as good or possibly better than the written source.
- Joe Haldeman, The Forever War. SF. From what I’ve heard, Haldeman was trying to make sense of his Vietnam experiences here. I’ve met him; he’s a fascinating man.
- Jane Harper, The Dry, Mystery. Absolutely an awesome read, characters well-drawn, and while I didn’t see the ending coming, it wasn’t an ending pulled out of a deux ex machina – it all made sense. Well, as much as murder can… I like mysteries where you don’t guess Whodunit halfway through a book!
- Jane Harper, The Lost Man. Mystery.
- Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Fantasy.
- Robert A. Heinlein, Glory Road. Fantasy.
- Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. SF A lot of Heinlein is hit or miss, frankly, but this is him at his pinnacle.
- Peter Hoeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow. GF
- Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner. GF. Set in his native Afghanistan.
- Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon. SF
- Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees. GF
- Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible. GF. Missionaries in Africa.
- Victor Koman, The Jehovah Contract. Fantasy. A quirky, Libertarian-inspired tale of a hit on God.
- Louis L’Amour, The Haunted Mesa. Western.
- Louis L’Amour, Jubal Sackett. Western.
- Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo GF, Mystery, and the next two books aren’t shabby, either. He passed away before he could continue the series.
- John Le Carre, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Classic, Mystery.
- Ursula K. LeGuin, The Dispossessed. SF
- Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness. SF.
- Megan Lindholm, The Wizard of the Pigeons. Fantasy.
- Yann Martel, Life of Pi. Fantasy. Another book/movie combo that worked.
- George R.R. Martin. The Armageddon Rag. Thriller, horror.
- George R.R. Martin. Portraits of His Children. SF, fantasy, short stories.
- Mareen McHugh, China Mountain Zhang. SF.
- Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz. SF, dystopia. Written during the height of the Cold War era, it looked at a world after nuclear destruction.
- Alan Moore, Watchmen. SF graphic novel, dystopia.
- Erin Morgenstern. The Night Circus. Fantasy.
- Haruki Murakami, After Dark. GF. I need to read more of his books!
- Elle Newmark, The Book of Unholy Mischief. GF, set in Renaissance era Europe.
- Nicole, Mones, The Last Chinese Chef. GF. Set in China.
- Nnedi Okoafor, Binti SF
- Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing. GF
- Alexei Panshin. Rite of Passage. SF. Recently re-read, and still timely although it is an older novel. A colony ship that still travels around although they make no more new colonies, and whose inhabitants are largely not able to accept change. Some good philosophical insights here.
- Diana Paxon. The White Raven. Fantasy. Excellent.
- Frederick Pohl and CM Kornbluth. The Space Merchants. The only SF novel I ever got my mother to read! Older and only somewhat dated, and a definite satire on the advertising industry.
- Chaim Potok, The Chosen. GF. Jewish culture/perspectives. As are the next two.
- Chaim Potok, My Name Is Asher Lev GF
- Chaim Potok, The Promise. GF
- Anne Rice, Cry to Heaven. GF, historical novel.
- Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire. Fantasy, Vampires. First in the series. She wrote this one with her full heart, after the loss of a child.
- Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat Fantasy, Vampires. Second in the series. Seriously, after this book, the series plummets downwards.
- Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume. GF
- Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children. GF
- Robert Shea, All Things Are Lights. GF, Historical fiction involving the Cathars.
- Robert Shea, Shike (Books 1 and 2) GF, Historical fiction, Japan.. I named a housecat of mine after a main character here. Jebu. Another author I met. Also interacted with prior to his untimely death of cancer in the 1990s.
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The First Circle. Historical GF, Russia.
- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, GF, Classic. The Dust Bowl of the 30s.
- Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash. SF. My favorite cyberpunk novel to date.
- Amy Stewart, Girl Waits with Gun. Mystery, GF, and this first is best in the series. It is based (loosely) on real events at the turn of the (previous) century.
- Mary Stewart, Touch Not the Cat. GF, Classic. I probably read it for the title, but stayed because it was good.
- Sheri S. Tepper, Grass. SF. TBH, I am not a fan of most of her novels, but this one was good.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (three volumes). Fantasy, Classic. The three movies were fantastic!
- Gail Tsukiyama, The Samurai’s Garden. GF, Japan.
- Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Satire, Classic, Fantasy.
- Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper. GF, classic.
- Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. SF, Classic. One of the books that inspired me as a child, I so identified with Captain Nemo then!. Would it stand up now? I dunno, as I haven’t re-read it since I was MUCH younger.
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Classic. Short, and to the point.
- Connie Willis, Doomsday Book. SF, Time travel.
- Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog. SF, Time travel.
- Terri Windling, The Wood Wife. Contemporary Fantasy. .Set in the Southwestern USA. Not highfaultin’ dramatic for the most part, it touched onto a bit of who I am, anyhow.
Books Best Appreciated as Regular Series
(Some of the above are parts of series but the ones below are best appreciated this way, and there are a lot of novels in each… Not each in a series like this is going to be good, but overall I do keep picking up more books in them.) To be honest, I mostly appreciate stand-alone (or maybe just a trilogy) novels, but sometimes I get sucked in. My universe is made of nuances, not definitives!
Below, I include series that go over 5 books to date. (That I keep wanting to read…)
- Patricia Briggs, Mercy Thompson series. Contemporary Fantasy. Many of them are getting a bit samey-samey, but I still pick them up. The last one I read was pretty good overall, and a bit of a step out of her writing. The heroine is a were-coyote, and she lives with a pack of werewolves. Nothing too deep but definitely some fun. She also has the Alpha and Omega series, and at some point I will read more of those. More werewolves. I like contemporary/urban fantasy fiction, but I really want to move beyond were-creatures and vampires.
- Neil Gaiman, Sandman comic book series. Fantasy, horror. Graphic novels originally issued as periodic comics.
- Barbara Hambly Benjamin January series. Historical mystery, set mostly in New Orleans featuring a freed slave circa the 1830s, 1840s.
- Tony Hillerman (followed by his daughter, Anne Hillerman), Leaphorn and Chee series. Mystery. These are set in the Navaho and sometimes Hopi territories of the American Southwest. Tony has passed on, and Anne has taken up the pen. She’s now coming into her stride. There are well over 20 novels.
- Seanan MacGuire, The Incriptid novels. Contemporary Fantasy. Incriptids are fantastical creatures that are not supposed to exist, but do. Light and fun, as a series. In different blocks of the novels, there is a different main character. So, I read these in sections relating to the main viewpoint character. I fear an outcome thinking all the viewpoints might merge into one. So far, my policy is working out.
- C.J. Sansom, The Shardlake series. Mystery, Historical novels, set in the King Henry the VIII era of Britain. Of all these series, this is hands down my favorite, and so well written I love all these books. You truly get a feel of the era and of the times. Please do start with the first book, Dissolution, first – that’s where we learn a lot about Shardlake’s character development. Yes, they are basically stand-alone, but don’t spoil yourself of that first book! No idea when the next book will be out – Sansom really does his research and takes his time, so you won’t be seeing any yearly releases here. In this series, I only found one semi-“meh” book.
A foodie, and soft-core homesteader slowly getting more involved in the latter as retirement settles in
Also, apparently, a bibliophile. I live with one cat (Serenity) 14 quail (more eggs on the way, and a bunch of chickens, not all are named, but there’s Roo, Idril, Yin, Yasukai and Chickpea.
tdiann at gmail.com
I live in the Hilltown region of Western Massachusetts,