Fanmail FAQ: Looking for Good Books….

So in the last week I’ve had three e-mails along these lines:


School is over for the semester, and I have a long, glorious summer stretching out in front of me. What’s more, I’ve got a summer job that involves very little actual work. (I’m a late-night gas station attendant.)

This leaves me all the time I could possibly want for reading.

Here’s my problem. I’m having trouble finding good stuff to read. Any advice for me? What’s your summer reading list?

Love your stuff,


I get a fair number of these sorts of letters. And generally speaking, they’re pretty easy to answer, as I can just point people at all the blogs I’ve written over the last four years where I recommend books.

Barring that, I point people at my Goodreads profile. Where I sometimes list the books I’m reading, and occasionally post up a review if I really feel strongly about a book.

In addition to letters like the one above, I’ve also had many, many people forward me the link to the current Poll NPR is holding, asking people to nominate books for their upcoming top 100 SF and Fantasy novels of all time.

For those of you too lazy to click a link, the gist is this: On NPR’s page, they’re asking people to post a comment listing their top five favorite SF/F novels or series.

I have opinions on this matter. So, of course, I posted my vote. It was pretty easy, because I’ve been obsessed with the Dresden Files lately. That’s one. Then there’s The Last Unicorn and Something Wicked This Way Comes – Three. Then Stranger in a Strange Land. Four.

I was going to vote for Lord of the Rings, too. But then I erased it and voted for my own series instead. I’m not entirely proud of that, but I’m not going to lie about it either. I figure Tolkien has enough votes. Besides, I happen to like my books a hell of a lot.

Only after I voted did I start to look at other people’s comments, and the titles of some of the books they mentioned hit me like bombs. Dune. Of course. I should have listed Dune. Discworld. Of course I should have listed Pratchett. Amber. Of course.

Luckily I’d already voted, so I couldn’t spend any time agonizing over which ones should really fit into my top five.

Then, later that same day, I got this letter:


I’ve only recently started reading Fantasy and Sci-Fi about a year ago. You were one of my first. ;)

I know you’ve read it your whole life. I need to play some serious catch-up. If you were going to list the most important books you’ve ever read. Like a bibliography of the best, most influential fantasy books you ever came in contact with, what would be on that list?

Specifically, I’d like to become well-read in fantasy and science fiction. But it seems like half of what I pick up is… don’t be offended. But it’s kinda shit. I know that one man’s trash it another man’s treasure. But I’ll trust a list of books from you more than some generic list I found online. I’ve enjoyed most all the books you’ve recommended so far….

Thanks so much,


“What the hell?” I thought. Never let it be said that I ignored a serendipitous confluence of events. Or that I missed a chance to answer several e-mails in a single blog….

So I did some research. By which I mean I went downstairs and looked at my shelves:

For some perspective. Here’s one part of one wall of the downstairs library. Note that this does not give any impression of books on the other walls. Or on the upstairs shelves. Or in boxes in the hallway. Or the boxes in the basement. Or over at the office. Or in storage in the office. Or on my shelves in my childhood bedroom in Madison. Or in the boxes in my childhood bedroom in Madison.

I kinda have a lot of books.

It is my dream to someday have all my books in one place, all on shelves, all organized in a system that pleases me.

It is a beautiful dream.

Anyway, here’s my list of SF and Fantasy recommendations. If you read nothing but these books, I think you could consider yourself to be reasonably well-read and somewhat well-rounded in the genre.

The rules I set for myself:

1. Only stuff I’ve actually read.

2. No more than 40 items, or I’d be doing this forever.

3. No more than one book or series per author.

So here we go:

  1. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  2. The Last Unicorn By Peter S. Beagle
  3. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  4. Stranger In a Strange Land Robert Heinlein
  5. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  7. Dragonriders Of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
  8. Dune by Frank Herbert
  9. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  10. The Discworld books by Terry Pratchett
  11. The Chronicles of Amber–Roger Zelazny
  12. Brave New World–Aldous Huxley
  13. Wizard of Earthsea By Le Guin
  14. Sandman  – Neil Gaiman
  15. The Fisher King Trilogy by Tim Powers
  16. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy by Douglas Adams
  17. The Riddlemaster of Hed series by Patricia McKillip
  18. Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P Lovecraft
  19. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  20. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  21. 1984 – by George Orwell
  22. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson
  23. Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare
  24. The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, by Barry Hughart
  25. The Princess Bride – William Goldman
  26. The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter
  27. Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
  28. The Odyssey by Homer
  29. The Last Herald-Mage trilogy – Mercedes Lackey
  30. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  31. River World Series – Phillip Jose Farmer
  32. One Thousand and One Nights
  33. Riftwar Saga by Feist
  34. The Dark Tower series – Stephen King
  35. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams
  36. Belgariad series by David Eddings
  37. Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson
  38. Michael Ende – The Neverending Story
  39. The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  40. The Shannara Trilogy – Terry Brooks

Now before everyone starts to squawk that I left out their favorite babies, keep in mind that I’m throwing this list together on the fly. So I’ve doubtless forgotten a few I would otherwise have included.

But yeah. It was really hard to even keep it to 40. Here’s the ones I had to cull from the above list. Consider them the runners-up.

  1. The Farseer Trilogy – Robin Hobb
  2. Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
  3. Only Forward by Michael Marshal Smith
  4. A Canticle for Leibowitz- Walter M Miller
  5. Pretty much Anything by Christopher Moore
  6. Time Enough for Love – Robert Heinlein
  7. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
  8. His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman
  9. Black Company Series – Glen Cook
  10. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
  11. Lud in Mist – Hope Mirrlees
  12. The Red Magician – Lisa Goldstein
  13. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  14. A Wrinke In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  15. Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury
  16. Declare- Tim Powers
  17. Legend- David Gemmel
  18. Icewind Dale Trilogy – R.A. Salvatore
  19. Harry Potter by Rowling (Mostly the first four)
  20. Beowulf

Gech. I have to stop. I’m done. Seriously done.

What’s that you say? Your absolutely favoritest of favorites still isn’t on the list?

Well… suck it. It’s my list, not yours.

No. Wait. What I mean to say is that I picked these books for the list because they:

  1. Influenced me because I loved them so very much.
  2. Influenced the genre because of when/where/how they were written.
  3. Influenced the SF/F readership because so many people have read them.

Every book on this list has done two of these three things. Many have done all three.

While I was doing my brief spatter of research and trolling through the comments on the NPR poll, I kept spotting books and thinking, “Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to read that….”

So, lastly, to partially answer Ben’s question about my summer reading list. Here are the books that would probably be fighting for positions on the above lists if I’d read them. They’re books I’m meaning to read, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  1. The Doomsday Book – Connie Willis
  2. Fafhrd & Gray Mouser books – Fritz Leiber
  3. Watership Down – Richard Adams
  4. The Gormenghast series – Mervyn Peake
  5. Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
  6. The Glass Book of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist
  7. A Song of Ice and Fire – Martin (Yeah Yeah. I know. I’ve been busy…)
  8. The Forever War – by Joe Haldeman
  9. House of Leaves – Mark Z Danielewski
  10. The Mote in God’s Eye – Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  11. Nova – Samuel R. Delaney
  12. Dhalgren – Samuel R. Delany
  13. The Uplift Trilogy – David Brin (I’ve only read one so far…)
  14. The Hollows series – Kim Harrison
  15. The Fionavar Tapestry – Guy Gavriel Kay
  16. The Vorkosigan Saga – Lois McMaster Bujold
  17. The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  18. Conan stories – Robert E. Howard
  19. Little, Big – John Crowley
  20. Lensman Series – E.E. “Doc” Smith
  21. Malazan Books of the Fallen – Steven Erikson
  22. Wheel of Time – Jordan and Sanderson (I’ve only read the first two)
  23. Tripod Trilogy – Samuel Youd
  24. Flatland – Edwin A. Abbott
  25. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Okay. I’m done. Not only should you have plenty to read now, but those of you who were suffering from a paralyzing lack of numbered lists should be satisfied as well.

Share and enjoy….


This entry was posted in Fanmail Q + A, FAQ, recommendationsBy Pat403 Responses


  1. Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:45 AM | Permalink

    I knew it would happen as soon as I posted this. I’m already thinking of books that should really be on there…

    The Martian Chronicles by Bradbury, for example.

    • unsleepable
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:24 AM | Permalink

      You’ve got 2 other Bradbury books on there, and neither of them are Fahrenheit 451. I am now more convinced than ever that I need to read more of his stuff.

      • Late Bird
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:20 AM | Permalink

        451 is actually my least favorite of his works. Dandelion Wine is pretty great as well- though it didn’t make the list- and Zen in the Art of Writing is a fucking life changer.

    • doublenerds
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:14 AM | Permalink

      So many great women missing from this list (yea yea, I know, “suck it” )

      If you haven’t read the following authors, you are seriously missing out:

      Jeanette Winterson (The Passion, Lighthousekeeping, The Stone Gods)
      Margaret Atwood (Handmaiden’s Tale, Oryx and Crake)
      Sherri S. Tepper (Beauty and Gate to Women’s Country are my favorites)
      Octavia Butler (the Xenogenesis trilogy is the obvious staring point)
      Robin McKinley (try Spindle’s End or Sunshine)
      Diana Wynne Jones (take your pick, they are all delightful)
      Kelley Eskridge (Dangerous Space)
      Elizabeth Moon (Legend of Paksennarian)

      And also…..Neal Stephenson! The Baroque Cycle is simply stunning.

      • peterlcoffey
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:52 AM | Permalink

        I second Atwood, Butler, and Jones!

      • Posted June 25, 2011 at 7:34 AM | Permalink

        Ooh – thank you for mentioning Sherri S. Tepper. Grass has been an incredibly influential book in my life, I think mainly because of exactly when in my life I read it, but I devoured it again 7 years later and still found it absolutely incredible.

      • slouis10
        Posted July 2, 2011 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

        I have to say I am quite pleased to see the Mercedes Lackey trilogy on the top 40 list, while I’m not a huge fan of some of her more recent work, her first books are really very good. As for good women fantasy authors, I’ve found that the ones that are worth the money are harder to get a hold of. I personally love:

        1. Fiona Patton (She has only written 7 books and some are out of print, but they are worth it)
        2. Lynn Flewelling (If you have never read the Bone Doll’s Twin you are in for a dark and twisted treat)
        3. Sherwood Smith’s Inda series
        4. Kristen Britain
        5. Marion Zimmer Bradley (If you haven’t read The Mists of Avalon you should)
        6. P.C. Hodgell (Another author who is not very prolific, but the books are worth it)
        7. Juliet Marillier (I love Daughter of the Forest)
        8. Tamora Pierce for those who aren’t afraid of “YA”
        9. Sharon Shinn
        10. Patricia C. Wrede (I absolutely adore the Enchanted Forest Chronicles)
        11. Anne Bishop
        12. Maggie Furey

        As for other authors, Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan (although I have to say I’m very glad the series is ending, it takes up a lot of room on my shelves), Guy Gavriel Kay, and of course Raymond E. Feist. There are a ton more, but that covers most of my favorites!

        • slouis10
          Posted July 2, 2011 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

          I totally forgot L.E. Modesitt Jr. I liked the Recluse series, but I LOVE the Imager series. I highly recommend it.

        • Kirie
          Posted March 10, 2013 at 9:34 PM | Permalink

          Oh I love Kristen Britain She would probably come about 3 on my Current favorites list. Though the last book she published kinda felt like it went no where to me but i have high hopes that the next one will fix that.

          Tamora Pierce is another great author she is my top YA author I’ve read all of her stuff i could find.

          Another YA that’s good would be Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (if you like vampire’s ect, Its not the cheesy stuff that’s been coming out lately). Midori Snyder is another good one as is Han Nolan, Tanith Lee, Kate Constable, Elizabeth Chandler, Bruce Coville, Alison Croggon, Diane Duane, Caroline Steverner, Sherryl Jordan, and Annette Curtis Klause.

          1) Patrick Rothfuss
          2)Robert Jordan
          3) Kristen Britian
          4) Rachel Caine
          5)Peter v. Brett
          ?)Michael Scott
          ?)Kelly Armstorng
          ?)Jessica Rydill (children of the shaman)
          ?) Elizabeth Kerner
          ?)Laurie Faria Stolarz (she may be YA)
          ?) Charles De Lint

          I realize most of those I’ve listed are YA, unfortunately the catalog program and the catalog itself were wiped from my computer when the HD went bad. So I’m having to start over on it and the lists i still have are mostly from back in middle and HS >.<. But if you don't mind it being YA they are some really great authors. :D

      • dbargie
        Posted July 8, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Permalink

        I absolutely loved the Paksennarian books by Elizabeth Moon. I just got Mists of Avalon on my Kindle, and am loving that as well. Dune I haven’t started yet, but plan to soon. So many books, how will I ever read them all??? I wish I had a job where all I EVER had to do was read books.

      • Em Walker
        Posted September 24, 2011 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

        Sunshine is one of my favorite books in the entire world. Robin McKinley is brilliant. Subtle, but brilliant.

        I would also have to add Tad William’s War of the Flowers (stand alone novel, unfortunately, I wish there were multiples of them).

        And come now, where are the C. S. Friedman tributes! In Conquest Born is fantastic.

      • Ayesha Holmes
        Posted June 2, 2019 at 3:01 AM | Permalink

        Cannot thank you enough for this set of authors (which you did way back in 2011) . I despaired when I read Pat’s list.

    • duncan6894
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

      I’m a little surprised that you mentioned Dune in your comments, but didn’t list him in any of the preceding lists. :)

    • Rael
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

      Personally, I prefer to segregate Science Fiction from Fantasy…some people like one, but not the other. Here are my top 5 of each category:

      1. Dune
      2. Honor Harrington Series
      3. Starship Troopers
      4. Foundation
      5. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

      1. Lord of the Rings
      2. Kingkiller Chronicles
      3. The Wheel of Time
      4. Shannara Series
      5. Thieves’ World

      Younger Readers:
      1. Chronicles of Narnia
      2. Xanth
      3. Harry Potter

      • Kirk
        Posted June 26, 2011 at 3:58 AM | Permalink

        I like the catagories, would have to put Anne McCafferry on the younger readers list.

      • NAMDORG
        Posted June 29, 2011 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

        Never read Honor Harrington series, and I think the hitchhikers guide deserves to be a bit higher (at least the first few). But other than that, this list is perfect.

    • dbargie
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

      Have you tried “The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch or the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey?
      I enjoyed Fafhrd & Gray Mouser books (pretty much my first fantasy books) and a great many of the other ones you also have posted. Quite a few I haven’t read, so I’ve copied those down for future reference. The library in town doesn’t carry many of this type of book, so I have to use inter library loaning. Takes a while, but they let me order whole series so I don’t complain. Thank you for the list and happy reading!

      • cjkoger
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

        Just finished Lies, and it was a great read! Lots of fun, good characters, excellent pacing. It was kind of my methadone to keep me from re-reading A Wise Man’s Fear a third time in a row.

      • Cheffy
        Posted July 13, 2011 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

        Just finished Lies yesterday after coming across this post last week. Brilliant book….just what I needed after finishing the way of kings.

      • ProudPapaG
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

        Easily the greatest surprise I’ve ever had recommended to me by an anonymous guy in line while waiting with my kids in the ice cream line at their school reading fair. What an incredible work, fantastic story, and imaginitive world. I wish these would go on forever. Rooting for the GoodBadGood guy has never been this intelligently baited!

    • wingodzilla73
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:43 AM | Permalink

      The end of the Dark Tower made me want to jump out a window and while I was falling to my death pluck out my own eyes. Then I would scream something from Lovecraft and have fire ants eat my flesh. So please PLEASE never write your self into your own story.

      I am just saying……

      • crazysg1fan
        Posted July 11, 2011 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

        Are you nuts? That ending was bloody brilliant. I could’ve done without Wizard and Glass, and Wolves of the Calla could’ve been two hundred pages shorter, but the last two books were fantastic.

        • Cheffy
          Posted July 13, 2011 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

          I have to say I am with godzilla on that one… I remember being angry for a month after finishing that book. A couple years later I saw someone holding a copy of the dark tower at the train station and it made me angry all over again. Now just today I have seen that they are making a film of the first book… the cycle of anger just keeps repeating :)

    • librosycafe
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

      In that line of thought, my two cents in two book shape:

      The mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer
      Forgotten king Gudu by Ana María Matute (not sure if the title translates like that in english, I read this one in the original spanish)

    • Will
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

      What about Raymond E. Feist????!!

      • Renny
        Posted June 28, 2011 at 7:50 AM | Permalink

        Posted June 25, 2011 at 8:48 PM | Permalink
        What about Raymond E. Feist????!!”

        He is #33

    • Cynicallyric
      Posted June 26, 2011 at 7:34 AM | Permalink

      Thanks for the list. Now I know who’s company I need to stand in to get you to be my fan.


      – Presumptuous

      • Ojodelgato
        Posted June 27, 2011 at 12:53 PM | Permalink


        Drop everything and read “The Forever War”. You’ll thank me.


    • Montpurse
      Posted July 1, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

      I’m surprised your not Gene Wolfe guy. He is such a technically savvy writer (for fantasy/sci-fi) as are you…

    • s.petry
      Posted July 5, 2011 at 12:06 AM | Permalink

      Thanks for mentioning David Eddings. The Belgariad and Malorean are on the top of my list for classics. I know those words are blasphemy to most fantasy readers. Tolkien is a very close second.

      Tolkien was the master of the world and objects, one could almost touch the walls of places he talked about. The details and maps, references and connections.

      Eddings did the same with characters. I find myself cheering out loud for the characters (Keldar is my favorite). I laugh at the Princess’s antics with her husband, I get somber when Polgara and the Smith… I cry when people die (I won’t give spoilers) . What some authors struggle to obtain with one character Mr. Eddings does with over a dozen.

      I am pretty sure that you books will top the list when your King Killer Chronicles are completed. You have the gift that both of them had. Your characters are as real as Eddings’, and your places are as real as Tolkien’s.

      You are truly a master of the craft.

      The only thing I have found to be disappointing is that I have to wait between books.

      • s.petry
        Posted July 5, 2011 at 12:26 AM | Permalink

        Oh, and if you have not read this set on your list ever: Fafhrd & Gray Mouser books – Fritz Leiber. It’s a great set.

        If you need a break from Fantasy/Sci-Fi (Since I saw Shakespeare on your list).
        Of Mice and Men – Steinbeck – You have probably read this at least once.

        And if you need a bit of reality in your reading I’m also an avid reader of Philosophy, Sociology and Economics
        The Science of Logic – Hegel (Marx’s Critique is a nice addition) Pretty much anything by Aristotle or Marx (especially his thoughts on the Civil War and Social Sciences). Plato and Socrates are also great reading to strengthen the mind.

      • dbargie
        Posted July 8, 2011 at 7:32 PM | Permalink

        I’ve read and own both the Belgariad and Malorean, I also have the Dreamers series, but out of all the things that Eddings did, “The Redemption of Althalus” is my absolute favorite. I adored the characters in that story. I loved Tolkiens books, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t really have a personal top list for classics. I have a big heart for my books. I can say though, that if it’s a favored story, it’s upstairs with my special books, and if I don’t mind loosing it to a friend, it’s in the hutch off the kitchen. Pat’s books made my Kindle, and my special bookcase upstairs that has locks on it so my toddler can’t tear them up. Happy Reading!!

    • TwoPynts
      Posted July 6, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

      Just finished the audio book version of ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’. Not only was it amazing summer reading, but also the largest audio book I’ve ever devoured (36 discs). I don’t know how I’m going to manage to wait years for the further adventures of Kvothe, but perhaps Butcher’s ‘Ghost Story’ will take the edge off.

      I grew up reading many of the same books as you. I agree with much of what’s on your list and look forward to reading some I’ve not gotten to yet. I did read every comment but don’t think any of Michael Moorcock’s books were mentioned. I enjoyed many of his series but consider the Elric Saga a must read.

    • greenleviathan
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

      I made an amazon list from Patrick’s list you can find it here.

    • mikeyptall13
      Posted July 12, 2011 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

      First I have to agree with everyone else about GRRM’s books… I’m halfway through the 3rd book, A Storm of Swords, and I can’t put them down.

      Secondly, a couple series that I strongly suggest are the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, and then the Troy series by David Gemmell. The second is a very interesting, and very different take on the Trojan War, with very likeable characters.

    • einwynn
      Posted June 20, 2015 at 5:49 AM | Permalink

      Don’t forget Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Benedict jacka if you like butcher, mike carey, Sierra dean, Michelle sagara, mark del Franco, Jocelyn drake, Jeaniene frost, Helen Harper, Alex Hughes, faith hunter, darynda jones, becca mills, Diana Rowland Eileen wilks

    • Posted October 30, 2016 at 12:43 AM | Permalink

      Hey Pat,

      Just wondering if you have read The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander and your thoughts on them? – The book were some of what got me reading at a young age and Im curious to know if they were influential in Fantasy history?

      Hope things are well mate – you’re an inspiration!

    • Q
      Posted October 23, 2018 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

      Which book influenced ‘The Name of The Wind’ the most?
      Is it the ‘memory, sorrow and thorn’ trilogy?
      Or was it an amalgamation of many great reads?

  2. sascha
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:48 AM | Permalink

    What I say to people who have never read Guy Gavriel Kay: “You’re so lucky. Because you get to read him for the very first time.” Run, don’t walk.

    Thanks for the list of to-do books. I need to add to mine.

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:54 AM | Permalink

      Do you have a favorite? I picked that one kinda at random….

      • sascha
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:56 AM | Permalink

        I Love the Fionavar tapestry. It was the first thing I read and was really moving. BUT, he’s on my desert island list though and I would take The Lions of Al-Rassan first. And then Fionavar and then Tigana.

        • imadok
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:38 AM | Permalink

          I LOVE Guy Gavriel Kay’s books. My favorites are the Sarantium Mosaic series, Last Light of the Sun, and The Lions of Al-Rassan. Under Heaven was just released in paperback – I am looking forward to that one.

          • Posted June 25, 2011 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

            My favourite among Kay’s books is A Song for Arbonne, even though it is very clear inspired from troubadours and the love code of the late Middle Ages…

      • doshiamit
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:39 AM | Permalink

        Before reading Under Heaven last year, I would have said Tigana was his best followed by Lions of Al Rassa.

        Under Heaven is one of the best books I have ever read, just brilliantly prose and an incredible incredible story.

        • Lithera
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

          I have to second Lions of Al-Rassan. There are very few books that will grab me that tightly every time I read it.

          • poetico
            Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

            I third Lions of Al Rassan…

            Followed by the Sailing to Sarantium series, Tigana, Under Heaven, Last Light of the Sun, and Fionavar.

            Kay is one of my all time favourites.

          • spikyc
            Posted June 26, 2011 at 2:10 AM | Permalink

            My favorite from Kay is definitely the Lions of Al-Rassan, although they are all wonderful (with the possible exception of Ysabel, which is a step down). My vote goes to Lions :)

      • Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:11 AM | Permalink

        I’m really suprised you haven’t read any GGK yet. I recommend reading them in the order he wrote them, simply so you can see his style develop. Tigana is still a favorite. I bought a copy for my dad on Amazon and had it shipped to him before I even finished my first read through. I’ve never done that before.

        • Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:12 AM | Permalink

          That would be “surprised.” Bad WordPress for not let me edit comments! :-)

      • monomer
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

        The Fionavar Tapestry is actually my least favourite work by Guy Gavriel Kay, followed by Ysabel.

        Of the rest, it is really hard to choose a single favourite, but I would say that I have re-read The Lions of Al-Rassan the most, if that is any indication.

        • Eridanis
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

          The thing that amazed me about Guy Kay is that he wrote the Fionavar Tapestry after working with Christopher Tolkien on the SILMARILLION. Kay synthesized what he learned from working so much on Tolkien’s work, and turned out a really good trilogy that did a good job of presenting a lot of what Tolkien was aiming for. For most writers, that would have been the crowning achievement of a career; for Kay, it was just a starting point. I’ve really enjoyed TIGANA, the Sarantine Mosaic, and have his others queued up to read someday.

          I personally would have added Julian May’s Pliocene Exile series to the list, I also would have added Mark Helprin’s WINTER’S TALE, which is my favorite book of all time. Honor, adventure, glory; comedy, tragedy – it’s all in there.

          • Sedulo
            Posted June 26, 2011 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

            Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is spectacular. In my top ten of all time. I always get excited when someone else has read it and loved it. Soldier Of The Great War is also stunningly excellent, but alas, not fantasy. Again, it does have heroism, honor, tragedy, glory and both are top-notch, creme de la creme storytelling.

        • theriptide
          Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

          So true on Fionavar Tapestry. It sounds heretic to say it but it’s my least favorite books of GGK as well. That’s not to say they weren’t great, because they were, but he has so much better. Tigana. Words can’t really describe it. I own 3 copies if that’s any indication. I have not read Under Heaven but it’s on my to-read list. I just haven’t had time lately.

      • melischerie
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

        I read Tigana first back in middle school or so, and couldn’t find anything else of his to read for ages (at the library). When I finally discovered Amazon, I devoured The Fionavar Tapestry. It’s a really amazing mashup of myths and legends. The first book is what I usually give to people when I recommend his stuff. With all that said, however, The Lions of Al-Rassan is simply amazing. I weep every time I read it. In fact, most of his stuff makes me weep, but that’s mostly because he writes absolutely brilliantly, with amazing characterization that makes me very, very attached.

      • Graythebruce
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

        I agree with other posters who prefer GGK novels like Tigana and Lions of Al-Rassan over Fionavar.

        I was very pleased to see several Tim Powers books in your various lists; before your own stuff came along, I’d have said Powers or Martin (for Song of Ice and Fire) were my favorite fantasy authors. I was also jazzed to see some historical works in there (Shakespeare, Beowulf).

        On that note, have you ever read Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (even in English translation)? It’s extraordinary: It’s easy to see why scholar/authors like Tolkien and Lewis were so enthralled with it, and I suspect you’d get a real kick out of the Princess-Bride-ish narrator’s voice, which, in the process of telling the story to a court full of nobles, is frequently making snarky comments about the improbable feats of the heroes. (One of my favorite lines, translated, concerns the fate of a heroine whose already-bad situation just got much worse: “When fate decides to play with a mortal, she does nothing by halves.”) It’s the only historical work that makes my top five list for fantasy, trumping Homer, Shakespeare, and Spenser. I would have assumed you’d already read the epic, of course, but I am sure you haven’t, because it’s not on your list. :-) I recommend throwing it on a future summer reading list some day. You know, when you have time. After book three is done. Ahem.

      • ericturner29
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

        Everything Guy Kay has written is gold except for his first series, the Fionavar books. They’re laughably bad.

      • moondarkvale
        Posted June 26, 2011 at 5:11 AM | Permalink

        So happy to see the name Guy Gavriel Kay come up and to read people’s favourites. It’s a difficult choice but mine has to be Tigana. It brings me out in goosebumps just saying the name! This was the first book to move me to tears on the first page. The second book that achieved that was The Name of The Wind…

        • resemblelife
          Posted July 28, 2011 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

          Another vote for Guy Gavriel Kay and Tigana. I would add The Last Light of the Sun and the Sarantine Mosaic as my all time favorites.

      • Illarion
        Posted June 27, 2011 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

        I’ll second (15th?) the recommendation for GGK. Along with GRRM, he’s the only modern fantasy author I talk about in the same breath as your good self. Martin has a gift for plot, but GGK, like you, writes words that touch your heart, that make you want to cry.

        Personally, I wouldn’t recommend The Fionavar Tapestry (or Ysabel) as the first thing to read, simply because it’s very different in style to all the rest of his work. (It’s also his first trilogy, and it shows).

        I don’t hate it – in fact, bits of it still send shivers down my spine – but I do find bits of it a little “My First Fantasy novel”, and simply not as well written as any of his later work.

        I think my very favourite of his is probably “Sailing to Sarantium”. Like most of his books, it’s based on what you might consider an alternative version of a real time and place, in this case the fall of Byzantium.

        Tigana, another strong contender for favourite, is slightly different in that, while it obviously has strong Italian flavour, it’s not so obviously “Italy in the past”, nor about specific real world events and people (well, not that I noticed, anyway). If you have as much appreciation for and understanding of music as Kvothe does though, it may particularly appeal as the characters are musicians/troupers, and music plays a significant role in the story.

        My other pick would the “Last Light of the Sun”, covering the life of Alfred the Great. So you have the flourishing of a Saxon kingdom – a brief spark of civilisation and learning – in the midst of Viking raiders. Plus Celts and Fairies.

    • brrbear
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

      I first read the Fionavar Tapestry when i was a teenager. I try to read it every five years or so…and each time i do, i get something different/new from it, it’s almost like reading it for the first time. I envy you, Mr. Rothfuss, that you have such a splendid summer of reading ahead of you. I think if you threw in the Sword of Truth series, and your own, it would be perfect.

    • wingodzilla73
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:53 AM | Permalink

      Speaking of Lovecraft, I always enjoyed his stories.

  3. Oatmeal
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:55 AM | Permalink

    I’m on a Gaiman kick right now, I have read American Gods and just finished (while I should have been sleeping this morning) Neverwhere. I have been following the recommendations of a friend of mine, and he said I should read Stardust next, but I see that you have Sandman listed as your Gaiman pick.
    Now I don’t know which to read next. :o(
    I’m so easily confused.

    • SporkTastic
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:03 AM | Permalink

      Stardust is an excellent and quick read; the Sandman series is an excellent and in-depth read of more than ten graphic novels. If that helps in any way.

      • Oatmeal
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:06 AM | Permalink

        That does help, thanks so much. If Stardust is as quick as Neverwhere was then I’ll probably do that one first. And then perhaps The Graveyard Book before moving onto Sandman. I didn’t realize that was a graphic novel series.

        I’ve been dragging my feet not starting Gaiman for years as I’ve read Pat’s blog recommending him over and over again. And then he had to go and write an episode of Doctor Who. So I don’t really have a choice now, do I? :o)

        • SporkTastic
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

          That *was* an awesome episode, that’s for sure. “Sexy”, indeed.

          The Sandman series actually started as comic books, but was re-released as a series of collected issues. And I’ve still got a bit of catching up to do on Gaiman – while I’ve seen and/or read some of his work, there’s still some left. And he does craft stories quite masterfully.

          • Oatmeal
            Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:19 AM | Permalink

            Heehee, that episode cracked me up, and at the same time it’s like it was written just for me. I’ve been asking for more of the TARDIS for months. I was so happy with it.

        • SporkTastic
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:15 AM | Permalink

          Oh, also! Stardust (which was remade into a movie, which was…close…) *is* a quick read.

    • JasonA
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:10 AM | Permalink

      I loved Anansi Boys. It was a lot better than I was expecting going into it. My favorite Gaiman I’ve read yet.

      • Oatmeal
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:15 AM | Permalink

        I’ve heard good things about that one as well (although that could probably be said about any Gaiman book) and that I should read it as it takes place in the same universe as American Gods. I’ll put it on the list. :o)

    • unsleepable
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:27 AM | Permalink

      I just read The Graveyard Book and the short story collection Smoke and Mirrors, and both were fun and rewarding reads… though a couple of the short stories may or may not have given me nightmares.

      Stardust is wonderful and lovely, and the movie made out of it (which I saw first and it may have been better that way because I wasn’t nitpicking) was also quite fun. American Gods is great, I’m going to go get a signed 10th anniversary copy this weekend =)

      • Widow Of Sirius
        Posted June 28, 2011 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

        I used the short story “BabyCakes” from Smoke and Mirrors for a speech in college. It had exactly the reaction you would expect :)

        I then used it on the FIRST DAY of the Films class I was teaching to illustrate an interesting theme, and the students came up with a bunch of good ideas for the theme – once they stopped being appalled :D

    • hippyjack
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

      i can’t believe no one has mentioned Good Omens. Ok its not just gaimen but it’s easily his best work.

    • AO_22
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:45 PM | Permalink

      One thing to keep in mind with Sandman is that it evolved as it continued. As much as I love it, objectively, I don’t think that the beginning (where Gaiman was still figuring out where he was going to take the series) stands up quite as well as the latter parts do. That’s a common occurrence with some serialized stories, and imo some of the best TV shows. So even if you don’t love it from the beginning, I would advise you (or anyone else) to stick with it for awhile in order to appreciate the true depth of it’s magnificence.

  4. Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:57 AM | Permalink

    Read Graveyard Book next, that is just wicked good awesome. Thanks for the recs, so glad Shades of Grey made the overflw list, one of my favorite books last year, can’t wait for the next.

    • Oatmeal
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:59 AM | Permalink

      AAAH! I’ve been told that I must Must MUST read that one aloud to my son and husband. I probably should read that one next, and now I’m even more confused.

      • nb
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

        I also love The Graveyard book. It is a quick read—so absorbing and beautiful–you won’t be able to put it down. My teenaged son loved it too.

  5. homahuey
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:57 AM | Permalink

    No Gene Wolfe???

    • JasonA
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:12 AM | Permalink

      I love reading Wolfe especially anything in the solar cycle but I have a hard time recommending him to friends. The few who I have give up because they have no idea whats going on. I keep telling them just keep reading and then when you go back and read it again it will make a lot more sense to you :P

    • unsleepable
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:28 AM | Permalink

      I was a bit surprised by that as well. I’ve only read The Knight and The Wizard but found them quite good. My boyfriend said the first was possibly the best book he had ever read, but personally I’ve given that distinction to the creations of the blogger upon whom we are commenting.

      • JasonA
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:56 AM | Permalink

        I liked the Wizard Knight. Easily his most accessible book of his I’ve read. The book of the New Sun is easily my favorite of his though. I’ve read the series four times now and each time I keep finding new things that changes the book for me. I love that. The Book of the Long sun and the Book of the Short Sun are really good as well.

        The Soldier series is great as well. It’s like Memento in ancient Greece. They are all worth reading…and then rereading.

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

      I’ve read Wizard and Knight. And I liked them quite a bit, but they haven’t stuck with me over the years the way a lot of these other books have.

      There’s a lot of A-list writers out there that couldn’t make it onto this list. It’s just too short. I had to keep it to the ones that were, for me, A++ books.

  6. homahuey
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

    PS – he’s a favorite of Neil Gaiman’s.

  7. Aphrael40
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

    I was so happy to see some of my favorites on there… Eddings, McCaffery, Butcher, LOTR, Dune, and a couple of classics… Shakespeare, One thousand and one nights… and there is all kinds of books I’ve not read. Oh and I SO understand not having the books in one place. When I downsized, one of the things that had to get packed up were my hardcovers….

    One thing I would add to this list… :) Louise Copper: The Indigo series.

    p.s. any chance of getting the Scutten recipe you mentioned back in Chicago:)

  8. SporkTastic
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:01 AM | Permalink

    Fantastic list!

    I’d probably add The Walking Drum by Louis L’amour – a truly excellent historical fantasy that was unlike his westerns.

    Also, I realize it’ll sound horrible of me, but you’re probably better off reading the wikipedia entries for the Wheel of Time series – about the first half of every book is a synopsis of what’s happened in the previous books, followed by in depth descriptions of things akin to the way the wind blowing in the trees happened to blow a spider’s web free, which in turn put a shadow of the grass it caught upon the path of a man otherwise not to be mentioned on his way to somewhere wholly unimportant.

    …not that I’m bitter about that, or anything.

    • peterlcoffey
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

      Oh! That is a great idea! I’ve been wanting to see what Sanderson did with the series, but haven’t been able to bear the thought of slogging through any more of those monsters. I never even thought that I could just read a synopsis lovingly crafted by the four bajillion Jordan fans out there then go out and actually read book 12.

  9. SporkTastic
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:06 AM | Permalink

    Oh, as fair warning, The Walking Drum might read more like an adventure book. I dunno, I’m liberal in my classification of “Fantasy” books when it comes to *highly* awesome, *extremely* well written works.

    (So definitely worth the read.)

  10. RyanL86
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:10 AM | Permalink

    That is an epic bookcase with what looks like a very organic filing system. I arranged my shelves in colour order, makes it a pain in the arse to find books but it looks pretty…

    When it comes to books on my list that didn’t make yours, I probably have three of note:

    – Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
    – Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
    – Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody

    At different times in my life when I was becoming very disenchanted with the fantasy genre, these three books have managed to bring me back and remind me what I love about fantasy

    • unsleepable
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:29 AM | Permalink

      I’m reading Elantris right now. Great book. The other 2 you mentioned are going on my to-read list.

      • Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:57 AM | Permalink

        I’m glad, they are fantastic books. It’s just hard to find the time to read all these amazing books that are out there, especially when a number of my favourite authors are writing these 300,000 word behemoths…

        • CDerico
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:42 AM | Permalink

          I just finished Lies of Locke Lamora for the third time. (Guess I will have to reread NotW &WMF again, so it can stay in the lead) It is among my favorites but leaves you in the same place as Pat’s books. (wanting the next in the series) the irreverent humor has almost gotten me in trouble at work for listening to the audiobook. (headphones, of course)
          I will try your other two recommendations, as well as a lot of ones listed in Pat’s list above. Thank you.

          • doublenerds
            Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:53 AM | Permalink

            CDerico, have you read Red Seas Under Red Skies? It picks up where Lies left off. Book 3 was originally due out this year, I think, though Scott Lynch seems to have sort have gone “off he grid” in terms of online communications to fans.

          • wolfeyez77
            Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:17 AM | Permalink

            I’m a big fan of the Lies of Locke Lamora, love that book! Red Seas Under Red Skies was very good, but not quite as good, I thought.

            All the same, I agree from what I’ve seen regarding Scott Lynch falling ‘off the grid’. I know he was going through a pretty tough time with depression, as well as he and his wife splitting up (according to what he wrote). I hope him the best, but I also hope that we eventually see the third book as well. I believe it was originally to be a 7 part series…

    • Graeme
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

      I’m so glad someone finally mentioned Lies of Locke Lamora. Lynch (and Sanderson actually) are right up alongside (if slightly behind) Pat as my top new authors to watch. It sounds like Lynch has been going through a lot of stuff lately but hopefully he gets back into it before too long

    • slouis10
      Posted July 2, 2011 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

      oooo! Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody is one of my favorites, I never would have found it except the SFBC did a reprint in an omnibus edition a few years back.

    • Bladvack
      Posted July 6, 2011 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

      SO glade someone mentioned Scott Lynch. The Lies of Lock Lamora ive read or listend to countless times, I just love the book! some of the others have mentioned how Scott has been gone for a year or so, his Live Journal has been updated 4 times sense June 20th which for him is awesome and he is very candid in it much the way Pat is in his blog.

  11. Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

    Wow, I’m a little ashamed at how poorly read I am in the genre. I’ve been reading fantasy pretty much exclusively since junior high, but I’ve still hit only 14 out of those top 40. And then only 5 out of the next 20. And then only 4 out of the next 25. I’m not sure I deserve to be called a fantasy geek anymore. *hides in shame*

  12. jarenson
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

    Love to list, and to think I’d been worried I’d never have enough books to read this summer…having not read a vast majority of this list i now have a lot to read.

    Proud to say I’ve read the Dresden files and its number one on my lists too! I would add Sanderson’s work (all of it) to the top of any list, and if anyone hadn’t read him yet he’d be one of the first I’d suggest!

  13. saintburns
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

    Diana Wynne Jones is an amazing author, and I love all of her books that I’ve read. Howl’s Moving Castle is definitely my favorite, and I’m sure you’ll love it.
    The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks was an amazing book if you’re still looking for suggestions.

    • Ashley Me
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:49 AM | Permalink

      I too share your love of Diana Wynne Jones, but I admit to not being as fond of Howl’s Moving Castle as her other books. The first four of the Chrestomanci books remain my favorite, followed by The Darklord of Derkholm duology and the Magid Duology.

      If you like her though, you might also like Ysabeau Wilce’s Flora Segunda and Flora’s Dare. Well written and imaginative, she is the only recent YA author I can compare to DWJ.

  14. JasonA
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:17 AM | Permalink

    I just tried Terry Brooks for the first time but I think I made a mistake in reading Word and Void instead of The Shannara Trilogy. I’ll have to give him another shot and try out the Shannara Trilogy. Hopefully it won’t make me want to find the characters and smack them for being so dumb.

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:36 AM | Permalink

      I felt the same too. Believe me, the Shannara trilogy is just so freaking explosively awesome. And it doesn’t stop with a trilogy either. There’s about 21 books or summat. In the whole Shannara chronicles.
      You’re probably better off starting with “The First King Of Shannara”. It’s a prequel, and chronologically, the first book in the whole series.
      And Dear god, by the time you get to the end of Genesis Of Shannara, your jaw will fall off.

  15. Knightrous
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:19 AM | Permalink


    3. The Lensman Series – Smith

    20. Lensman Series – E.E. “Doc” Smith

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:30 AM | Permalink


      But on the plus side, that lets me slip a new title in there….

      • Posted November 12, 2014 at 6:55 AM | Permalink

        Hey Pat!
        Just, for the record, if you’re still looking for something to read, and want an awesome female writer, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner is amazing. And the rest of the series just gets better and better from there. AND her longest book is under 400 pages long, so it isn’t a series you would need to make a ton of time to read. So you should totally read that. You will, I think, love it. Turner is a much underappreciated genius.

  16. Shuwen
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:21 AM | Permalink

    While reading through your recommendations I was struck by how few female authors were included. I’m not mentioning this to try to point out any fault or sexism in your list; rather, I think it’s a shame that for whatever reason women haven’t been fully embraced by/embraced the sci-fi genres. Something for the genre to work towards in the future!

    Thanks for the great blog.

    • Graythebruce
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

      I agree with your diagnosis of the problem, at least as far as it not being Pat’s fault. I noticed the same thing looking at Pat’s list, and might have been more quick to blame him if I hadn’t at one point created my own, and noticed the same thing in that one. There are women whose work I like, certainly. (Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia Anthony, Ursula K. LeGuin, J.K. Rowling.) But there haven’t historically been enough of them out there to ensure that women show up very often on such things as Pat’s list, or on the top five lists on the NPR site.

      You mentioned a possible cause being that women haven’t embraced SF/F enough (as writers, rather than as readers), and I think that might have been part of the problem, historically: SF/F has always had that male nerd vibe, enough so that, even just a month ago, a woman reviewing Game of Thrones for NYT painted the entire genre with the male-nerd/D&D brush. But I think that’s going to change. Women are increasingly open about *reading* SF/F, and that’s going to lead to more women writing the stuff, too. We already seeing more high-profile women writing SF for the screen. (Espenson and Tancharoen come to mind.) At the same time, the new-generation dudes are less-and-less interested in reading and writing. The demographics are shifting, I think.

      • Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

        Yeah. What he said.

        (I’m assuming from the “bruce” that you’re a he.

        • Graythebruce
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

          Yep. Well guessed!

      • Celebuial
        Posted June 26, 2011 at 6:21 AM | Permalink

        My two cents on this subject:

        Even though I’m female I do have to admit that in general I have the view that women don’t write good fantasy! Its a horrible thing to say but not much has led me to believe otherwise.

        The only female author I can think of whose books I actually enjoyed reading(and thinking this is actually good) is K J Parker. All the other female written stuff I’ve tried is well ‘girly’ for want of a better term. They always seem to have female protagonists and they seem to focus on how they’re feeling all the time. Don’t get me wrong I love good character development but for me George R R Martin does it in a much more realistic way. I find his females more believable the the ones actually written by women!

        I couldn’t tell that K J Parker’s books were written by a woman and that what I want hen I read, an immersive orld with great charcters. I don’t want to stop and think “oh isn’t this a load of girly tosh?”!

        • iridescent
          Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

          I think I’m a bit late getting in on this conversation..(like 2 years) but I hadn’t seen it before today. I was trying to figure out when Pat’s Book 3 was going to be ready and then saw the recommendations list for good reading until his next book is out and just had to chime in..

          I love CS Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy. It is my second all time favorite, right under Pat’s Kingkiller Books. I’ve read the Coldfire Trilogy about 4x each over the course of 10 years. Although the storyline is a bit darker than my usual FF favorites, the characters are well developed and the detail makes you feel like you’re right there in the story. Absolutely fabulous. I’ve read a few of her other books and they were just ok.
          I second the vote for Juliet Marillier, some of her books are better than others..the Sevenwaters Series are incredible. I would read anything by Robin Hobb-she is phenomenal. The Liveship Trader books are very well thought out. Karen Miller with her Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series and the Godspeaker books are very good too. The Godspeaker books are a bit gruesome with lots of blood and violence, but interesting.
          I’ve made a list of the comments and recommendations that all of you have written so that I have some ideas for keeping myself busy until Pat’s new book is out. My thanks to all of you who have provided options. Can’t wait to read Pat’s Doors of title. I will have to go back and re-read books 1 and 2.. again, before starting Book 3. Yay! I recommend them to anyone who will listen. I REALLY want my brother to read the two that are available but am reluctant to loan him my copies and too cheap to buy him new ones..ha! Maybe if I found some at a used book place.

          • iridescent
            Posted March 1, 2013 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

            Oh, and I can’t forget The Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llewellyn. Maybe not so much fantasy or scifi, but excellent reading.

    • SarahMarie
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:07 PM | Permalink

      If you read the below article from The Guardian and agree with the Naipaul, its not just the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section that has a problem.
      I personally think the problem with women trying to bust into the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre is the vampire/werewolf/what have you black hole. Its too easy to become a success off a poorly written story with a healthy dose of written porn.

      • DietchyPeach
        Posted June 26, 2011 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

        hey… good books can have literary porn in them to….

    • Sorensencamille
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:41 PM | Permalink

      If you are looking for some other great female sci-fi/ fantasy writers may I suggest:
      Jennifer Fallon
      Sharron Shinn
      Lois Mcmaster Bujold
      Juliette Marillier
      Kristen Britain
      Sara Douglass
      I have heard good things about Jaqueline Carey, but have not read her yet.

      Female fantasy is a little different than male fantasy. There is usually more theology and romance, but fewer battles. While I enjoy both, I know of some people who gravitate toward one or the other. You will find many of these up and coming lady fantasy authors are from Australia/New Zealand I personally find this intriguing.

  17. L.Spangler
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:21 AM | Permalink

    I am encouraged by Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber on your list (I recently added it to my summer reading list). I just read The Magic Toyshop for a Lit class and wrote a paper on it. I was intrigued by her and definitely want to read The Bloody Chamber.

  18. Risa
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:24 AM | Permalink


    Please read Lois McMaster Bujold…the Vorkosigan series is sublime (a manic-depressive fragile honorable funny strategic genius dwarf…in space yet follows a feudal code, wtf? and awesome) but go for her fantasy too, the Chalion series (I love her pantheon and I can’t wait for her to get to the Bastard God one) and the Sharing Knife series.

    But no Iain Banks! You have to get a taste of Banks’ insane view of the universe and humorous yet intense writing style, one of the most original sci-fi writers I’ve read.

    • Graythebruce
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

      Ah, yes. Iain Banks. His stuff is good, but the only one I rave about is Feersum Endjinn, which is brilliant.

    • iadknet
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

      Another vote to move the Vorkosigan Saga to the top of your to-read list. Especially since you enjoy the Dresden Files. Bujold and Butcher have a similar gift for creating great characters.

      I was surprised at how closely your top 15 or so matched my own personal favorites (outside of the Vorkosigan Saga omission).

    • froznpeas
      Posted June 27, 2011 at 10:38 PM | Permalink

      I enjoyed Bujold’s Chalion books, but haven’t gotten into her sci fi stuff. Any recommendations of where to start in the Vorkosigan Saga?

      Also, if you’re looking for female fantasy authors, I absolutely loved (and was haunted by) Lynn Flewelling’s Tamir Trilogy (The Bone Doll’s Twin, Hidden Warrior, and The Oracle’s Queen). Her Nightrunner series is entertaining, but not as gripping.

      Speaking as a female, life-long inhaler of sci fi/fantasy books, young adult fantasy novels from a girl’s perspective are incredibly important, and hard to find. I believe Tamora Pierce’s books have already been mentioned on the blog, but I’d echo the recommendation. If you have (or are) a pre-teen who loves fantasy, The Song of the Lioness books are a great place to look next.

      • Phule77
        Posted July 5, 2011 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

        Start with “Cordelia’s Honor” (used to be two books, now one volume) that tells how his parents got together, and how Miles came to be who he is. The next collection after that is “young miles”. They (mostly) tend to be chronological (they were written in order) though some of them have been grouped by theme rather than time, so you may have to double check/purchase.

  19. chaelek
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:26 AM | Permalink

    So you’re pretty consistently compared to George R.R. Martin but you haven’t read his (latest) series? It’s pretty damned good, and HBO did a terrific adaptation of it, the best book-to-screen adaptation I’ve ever seen.

    • Graythebruce
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

      Actually, I can see authors actively avoiding work by people they’ve been compared to, to avoid second-guessing their own style — “Whoa. I don’t want to seem like I’m ripping off Martin! I’ll change everything I was just doing!” (A short story by Orson Scott Card best captures this idea.)

      So, I’ll reassure: Aside from being big, complicated, brilliant fantasies peopled with fascinating, fully-fleshed-out characters, the two series are nothing at all alike. The list of differences is much, much longer. It’s longer than Pat’s SF/F inventory. Just to start: Magic plays a much greater role in Pat’s work, which in turn uses a storyteller framework (usually first-person) that’s nothing like Martin’s. Pat’s focuses on one character and often has funny scenes; Martin’s spreads its attention among many characters, some of whom say funny things, but funny situations are pretty rare. There’s the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg is gigantic, though.

      • chaelek
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:49 PM | Permalink

        A fine point, the stories are polar opposites in most respects, I think the reason they’re compared so often is because of the sheer quality that both series possess.

        Also, the HBO series Game of Thrones gives me hope for book to tv adaptations, and maybe we’ll see a passable version of the Kingkiller Chronicles someday..

  20. Risa
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:29 AM | Permalink

    P.S. Lois Bujold was the first and only writer who I’ve found could actually write a slow-motion sequence in an action scene…in Diplomatic Immunity, I was reading along and realized in the middle of a major action sequence that a portion had gone completely slow-motion which ended with a snap and she did it only with words and sentences. No punctuation games with ellipses or dashes. She is a master writer.

  21. dressner
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:31 AM | Permalink

    Pat, I love your list. I was (probably one of) the awkward kid(s) too shy to say much at your reading in Iowa City somewhat recently, and I really dig your books and your blog. I have to say my mouth hit the floor when you said you haven’t read all of Wheel of Time. On one hand I’m glad you spent your time writing rather than reading, my second read through took me a year, and that’s a big time investment for sure. But to me the WoT series is kind of the iconic, imperfect, yet incredible blueprint for the genre.

    Jordan could have used quite a few lessons from you on editing and revision, towards the end it gets kinda slow and nothing much happens for a bit, but the overall story is very much not to be missed. I charge you to finish WoT, you won’t regret it. However if you wouldn’t mind waiting until after you finish Kingkiller 3, I would very much appreciate it. :)

  22. Andrew I
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:38 AM | Permalink

    Hey Pat, I recently discovered Delaney myself. I haven’t gotten to Dahlgren yet, but I was blown away by Nova, Babel-17, and Empire Star. I couldn’t recommend all three more strongly.

    Also, I read The Last Unicorn after you recommended it at your Chicago reading (I dunno if you remember, but I asked if you would be willing to sign it). Absolutely brilliant book. Thank you!

  23. chiquens
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:41 AM | Permalink

    Thanks… I had run out of things to read, and although I could totally re-read a bunch of series I’ve already read, something new is always exciting.

    Right now I want Sanderson to write faster. :)

  24. MouetteSheridan
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:43 AM | Permalink

    Oh, my lovely memories.

    I’m soooooo glad to see RiddleMaster of Hed here – it sat at the top of my favorites list for a long, long time, and I seem to have a hard time finding other people who’ve read/love it.

    It’s been years. Damn, I need to reread it. But later – I’m in the middle of Fire and Ice now…

    Belgariad. First fantasy series I ever read. McCaffrey. Ender’s Game, first sci-fi I ever read. Lackey, who made me sob more through Magic’s Pawn than I ever remember crying in a book.

    For Shuwen – not many female authors, no, but Robin Hobb, Mercedes Lackey, Patricia McKillip, Ursula Le Guin, and Anne McCaffrey – well, no one does it better. I’d rather have quality than quantity. And she wasn’t listed on the covers until the latest of the books, but Leigh Eddings was supposedly co-authoring with her husband every step of the way.

    Love the additions in the comments too – though I only picked up Brent Weeks and Brandon Sanderson fairly recently, my loss for not reading them sooner. Lies of Locke Lamora…

    Oh it goes on and on. The fond, fond memories – and the ones I still need to make reading!

    (The HP comment made me recall… Pat, I doubt you remember, but you and I exchanged a few facebook messages about Deathly Hallows when it came out. I complained to a friend about the book; recently she told me that she didn’t understand how a movie that looks as awesome as the second half does could come from the book I told her about. I’m still don’t have an answer – miffed on that count myself.)

    • Sedulo
      Posted June 26, 2011 at 4:54 AM | Permalink

      I think they are trying to get nominated for Best Picture.

  25. skisgirl276
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:44 AM | Permalink

    Happy to say I’ve read many of the books on your list and consider them favorites (Wrinkle in time, Amber Series, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter) but I was especially excited to see The Belgariad included on your list….it’s a series that I return to again and again over the years, like visiting friends that I’ve missed. My parents, brothers and sisters have all read that series and I told them about your books as soon as I finished reading them….I think Kvothe will definitely be a friend I revisit many times in the future!

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:12 AM | Permalink

      Its a series that cops a lot of flack, but Pawn of Prophecy was the first fantasy book I read as a 12 year old, and the Belgariad was the first fantasy series I finished. His books were most accessible way to get people into reading fantasy, all in a time where sci-fi romanticism was starting to come out of its golden age and back to the rest of the pack.

      • kathy k.
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

        I read the entire series to my kids when they were younger (plus the Belgarath and Polgara books) and they’ve re-read them since – I’ve owned them for 25 years and still read them from time to time.

      • kathy k.
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:44 AM | Permalink

        I read the entire series to my kids when they were younger (plus the Belgarath and Polgara books) and they’ve re-read them since – I’ve owned them for 25 years and still read them from time to time.

  26. Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:50 AM | Permalink

    No Jack Vance on there…. I’m staggered.

  27. Whiskyjack
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:54 AM | Permalink

    I finished book 5 of the Malazan series recently and just have to say I can’t wait to get hold of the rest.

    • Lithera
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

      The Malazaan books are awesome. The first one is rough but once you get through it, it is so worth it. Don’t forget to read the accompanying books by Esselmont.

    • rookedwithElodin
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

      The only problem I had with the Malazan books is that towards the end (I’ve read book 7 and am in the middle of book 8) they {as it seems to me} focus more on philosophy instead of story. There will be chapters mostly of just a character thinking relatively abstract thoughts, but otherwise I think it is a good series.

      • Kruppe
        Posted July 3, 2011 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

        Toll the Hounds bogs down somewhat, but the payoff is worth it.

  28. Geddy
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:02 AM | Permalink

    I will admit, I was a bit bummed not to see Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy on your top 40. I was getting ready to storm to the comments and bitch and moan, when I saw it at the top of your list of books that you felt had to be culled from the top 40 list. Fair enough.

    Also, I’m sure you’ve heard of it, maybe even read it, but Hobb wrote a sequel trilogy (is that the right term?) called The Tawny Man Trilogy. Same characters, same world, 15 years later. I have to say, those two trilogies had me absolutely enthralled for the duration of reading them.

    Lastly, if you do ever get around to reading A Song of Ice and Fire, make sure you’ve got the time. It’s a captivating series. I just started reading it not too long ago myself (half way through the 3rd book, going to try and finish the 4th book before the 5th comes out next month). Not sure if you watched, or wanted to watch, but HBO did a great job with their Game of Thrones series (10 episodes). Season two starts Spring 2012.

    • Johnnycakes
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

      ASOIAF is a tremendous, tremendous series. The HBO series was *good*. But nobody should ever watch the series before reading the books IMHO.

      • Geddy
        Posted June 25, 2011 at 3:31 AM | Permalink

        Oh trust me, I won’t deny this. Read it before watching. But I thought the series was fantastic. I am looking forward to season 2. Especially Blackwater Bay.

  29. jlundy10
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:19 AM | Permalink

    Jim Butcher has another series out called: The Codex Alera series that is brilliant.

    Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

    The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks

    All these are books i suggest to my friends to read.

    I too thought I was a pretty decently versed science fiction and fantasy reader, but I was apparently wrong and I need to get reading to rectify the situation.

    • Akularael
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

      Actually if you look at the picture of his shelves you can see the codex alera series.
      And Jim butcher is awesome I can’t wait till July 26th.

      • Sorensencamille
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

        Long Live Harry Dresden!!!!!!
        (ghosts are immortal right!?!?)

  30. Ivi
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:48 AM | Permalink

    Love to see Gormenghast trilogy up there, some fantastic writing, although its like eating treacle – enjoyable, but not to be done in large quantities, that would just be a verbal overload. Also on the cover it said “Vintage” – the publisher – then “Peake” right after, and at my reading group we all though he was called Vintage Peake! We loved the name so much we used it as a character in the story we’re writing. Anyway, I would definitely recommend the Gormenghast trilogy. I particularly love the poetry in them.

  31. Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:05 AM | Permalink

    Crikey, there are a lot of books there I haven’t read! But thanks for compiling this list, always good to get some more recommendations.

    On your summer reading list, I’ve read Dahlquist’s, and it is mental but brilliant. Oh and Day of the Triffids is terrifying! Enjoy!

  32. gandran
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:13 AM | Permalink

    I read some of those books in my native language and I wonder how much they lost in quality due to translation. I’m currently reading Gormenghast, and I must say the writing is quite astonishing, sometimes a little hard for me to understand on the first try, but nonetheless astonishing.

    Anyway that’s a lot of books to add to my english “must-read list” ^^

    And for those (few?) who can read french, I would recommend :
    “La Horde du Contrevent” by Alain Damasio
    “Janua Vera” and “Gagner la guerre” by Jean Philippe Jaworski

    Those are, in my opinion, the best french SF/Fantasy books.

  33. MrSpicey
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:14 AM | Permalink

    I usually never write a comment, but “Thank you very much for the lists”.

    I don´t have much fantasy fans among my friends, so I kinda have to look for bookstore or online tips.

    Let me say just one thing ( I hope you don´t mind me posting this on your blog).

    You have to read “A Song of Ice and Fire” immediately. It is (here comes the part I mean) the only series I like better than yours. There I said it.

    Greetings from Germany


    • Graythebruce
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

      I’d rank them in the other order, with Pat’s being the better one. But that’s only four days a week. It’ s close. Definitely should be near or at the top of that to-read list!

  34. Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:27 AM | Permalink

    Hmm, seems I have a looot of readin to do if I want well-read of fantasy/sci-fi genre.. At least now I see a list from which I can look for interesting sounding titles x)
    But ahhh, Howl’s Moving Castle ♥ How I loved that one, need to find it somewhere and buy it.

  35. maine character
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:30 AM | Permalink

    Glad to see The Last Herald-Mage trilogy, Neuromancer, and The Black Company – books I recommend as well.

  36. darcblayde
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:41 AM | Permalink

    I’m intrigued, as he was mentioned regularly on your blog just around the time Name of the Wind was released, but you haven’t put anything by that wonderful British author Joe Abercrombie on your list…
    Still upset that he competed for all the same awards as you ;)

  37. Logan
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:52 AM | Permalink

    Well, my Dad and Granny (the two with the thousands of sci-fi and fantasy books that got me started) have apparently taught me well. I’ve read 37 of the 40 on your list.

    I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, but I did enjoy the books. Just curious why you said that about the first four. I thought they got much better after the first four when they got darker.

    Also, you’re lucky. Martin’s series is the only other fantasy series that can rival your’s in my heart. You’re in for a treat.

  38. Layonee
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 4:56 AM | Permalink

    Here’s a link to Dominic Cilli’s review of Steven Erikson’s The Malazan Book of the Fallen:

    I’m posting this because every time I try to put my opinion on this series in words I fail utterly! I just cannot explain adequately how awe-inspiring it is!

    To anybody reading my comment: please read this? I hope it will convince you to read the series, because… well, just because! :P

  39. pakap
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:05 AM | Permalink

    @gandran : bien l’bonjour :) nice to see another Frenchie here. I also second the Damasio, utterly brillant, one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in any language.

    Also, I’m happy to say I’ve only read half of the top-40 list. That’s a nice long reading-list for the summer, thanks !

    And I’d like to third Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastard Sequence (The Lies of Locke Lamora / Red Seas Under Red Skies), they’re great, and Scott’s blogging again these days and has hinted at a big announcement coming soon…might be the third book !

    Now, on to the used bookstore ! (just in case there are more Frenchies here, the San Francisco Book Company in Paris is the best english-language used bookstore I’ve ever seen : cheap, nice people, and good-ish SFF selection).

    • gandran
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:40 AM | Permalink

      salut ! ^^

      I’m in paris but take my books on, I’ll check that store thx ^^

  40. Franziska
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:07 AM | Permalink

    I’m very happy you included The Neverending Story by my favorite Fantasy author Michael Ende.
    If you need some recommendations of more German Fantasy writers, let me know :) We do/did have some amazing authors that didn’t shy away from that genre :)

    • Joan
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

      There are good german fantasy writers? Really? Can you recommend anyone to me? I’m having a hard time finding them. (oh, and don’t say Cornelia Funke, she might me a great author of children’s fiction, but she’s a little too YA for me)

  41. Late Bird
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:22 AM | Permalink

    Glad to see Michael Ende had a cameo on the list. The Neverending Story has always been one of my favorites. Totally a keeper. The movie only did it tipped the iceberg. Not bad though, I mean, who didn’t have a childhood crush on the childlike empress?! “Say my name!” ooooooh yeah ;)

  42. RH
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:46 AM | Permalink

    Love the picture of all those books! We have a room we call the library that is partially arranged as stacks, but even with more bookcases around the house we need more. I have worked out two ways to address The Paperback Problem (bookshelves are not designed to store them efficiently) if you are interested. (I joke that my wife married me for my books, but in truth by the time of the wedding she had already read all the ones that interested her – which is to say most of them.)

    As good as her Earthsea books are, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish series is her masterpiece, and the apex of that is The Dispossessed. For me it would have to be in the top five or so of any such list.

    I found the two best books in David Brin’s Uplift series, Startide Rising and The Uplift War, to be far better than the rest, but his Glory Season deserves special mention because it is a not only a totally great story but is thought provoking in much the same way as The Dispossessed. And I love that a man had the balls to write it!

    Finally, they might not qualify for such exalted lists, but Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath are two connected juvenile fantasies written long before fantasy was cool, even before LOTR became huge. I think they have earned space in any collection – but I suspect you know that.

    • Istezada
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:45 AM | Permalink

      You can’t tease us like that!!!! What is your solution to The Paperback Problem? Desperately inquiring minds want to know!

      • RH
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

        One is easy to describe. We bought some 82″ high 13″ deep bookcases with no backs, that look the same from either side. The shelves are adjustable, and we ordered lots of extra shelves. The shelves are set to just allow a standard mass-market British paperback (a bit taller than American ones) to fit. But the key is that the bookcase is positioned with the end against the wall, and paperbacks go in on both sides. Each bookcase has 9 shelves, 30″ long, with two rows of books, for a total capacity of 45 feet of paperbacks. We have three of those.

      • RH
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

        The other solution to The Paperback Problem is only for wall-mounting, and building one requires something like a table saw or radial-arm saw and basic woodworking skills. Describing it will be a challenge, it really deserves pictures or diagrams. The one I built goes from floor to ceiling, giving me 11 shelves, and is six feet wide. That comes to 65 feet of paperbacks. Of course it could be any size you choose to build. I have adapted this to widely different proportions.

        Pick your own length for the shelves and hight for the sides. The sides need to be at least 0.75″ longer at each end than where the first/last shelf attaches. Pick the spacing and depth for shelves. A cleat (for want of a better term) runs along the back edge of each shelf, giving it support and pretty much guaranteeing the shelf can not sag. The cleat is also used to fasten it all to the wall.

        This description assumes that all materials are 0.75″ thick. There are three parts: sides (2), shelves (n), and cleats (n).

        Determine how deep the shelf has to be to hold what you want it to hold, and call that D. Add 0.75″ to D and you know how wide to cut the sides. Add 0.25″ to D and you know how wide to cut the shelves. Cleats are about 2.75″ wide (not critical) and 0.5″ (or a bit more) shorter than the shelves.

        Cut a dado (groove) along the 2.75″ side of each cleat 0.75″ wide, 0.25″ deep, the length of the cleat. Off-set the groove from the center so that there is 1.5″ on one side and 0.5″ on the other. The back edge of the shelf fits into that groove. Apply glue to the groove, insert the shelf, and fasten with screws from the other side of the cleat. Be sure to position the cleat so there is 0.25″ shelf extending past each end! (I actually cut the cleats a wee bit short so this won’t be a critical dimension.)

        Cut a series of dados across the width of each side where the shelves attach. Again, make them 0.75″ wide, 0.25″ deep. The ends of the shelves fit in these grooves, glued and secured with screws from the other side. Be sure all the cleats are to the back with the wider part down (except the bottom shelf put the wider side up).

        Once you figure out where you want it on the wall, find the studs. Mark the center of each stud on the wider side of each cleat. Drill and countersink holes through the cleat at each of those points. Mount to the wall with 3″ screws, like you would use to build a deck.

        As I said, it really needs pictures.

        • RH
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Permalink

          On more point. I made the mistake of painting the back side of the cleats on one unit made this way, the side that goes against the wall. Over time the paint decided to adhere to the wall as well as the cleat, so taking it down brought bits of the wall with it. Either do not finish the back of the cleat, or maybe cover it with something that won’t stick (paper?).

  43. DelBoy
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:49 AM | Permalink

    I think I’m coming down with a serious case of Shelf-Envy…….. O.o

    Also, cheers for the list there’s some on there I haven’t read and will have to find them. :))

  44. fordified
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:22 AM | Permalink

    All I need to say is ‘thanks’. All I want to say is that I have been spending countless hours (yes, countless) reading samples on my nook of the next books I should read. Disappointed most of the time. I picked up my paperback copy of The Dresden Files: Dead Beat and have been enjoying it again. And now, when I’m done with his series (to date), I have a magnificent reference so I’m not picking random cover art and d/l samples and being bored off my gourd. Thanks again.


  45. Shawn Williams
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:25 AM | Permalink

    I got shivers when I saw Danielewski’s House of Leaves on your list. It is absolutely one of the creepiest books I have ever read. Challenging read with three simultaneous story lines – distinguishable by their typeface as well as the authorial voice – and the need to use the appendices to appreciate the story. Excellent choice and highly recommended.

  46. Dawn the glass bead maker
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:58 AM | Permalink

    Finally, someone has more books than me! Assuming those shelves above equal 1/3 or less of your total book hoard, that is.

    Following you on goodreads now- but considering the stash size- Goodreads now has an app for android smartphones (perhaps other platforms, too), that lets you scan books in with the barcode reader and the isbn. Very, very easy to use, and works better than the other book scanning apps I’ve tried. Plus it adds them all to your shelves :)

  47. MrsLisaT
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:02 AM | Permalink

    Awesome list! A lot of those are on my to-read list. I was happy to see that you had Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones on your want-to-read list. DWJ is a wonderful author and Howl’s Moving Castle is an amazing book! It’s easily my favorite of hers. Have you seen the Miazaki movie version of it?

    Also, what are you doing not reading A Song of Ice and Fire!?! That’s the series I am currently reading and it is absolutely AMAZING! Get moving and read it!!

  48. Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    Funny, >70% of your list is already in my bookshelf. Must try the remaining 30% as well ;-).

  49. Hannah S.
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:09 AM | Permalink

    “It is my dream to someday have all my books in one place, all on shelves, all organized in a system that pleases me.

    It is a beautiful dream.”

    I hear reflections of the conversation in the Archives about how the books are ordered. Are you comparing your collection to the Archives? ;)

    • Graythebruce
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

      Yeah, I wondered that, too.

      If so, and the Archives have had many organizers, does this mean that Mr. Rothfuss has multiple incarnations, like the Doctor? Which one are we on?

  50. silverwolfe2003
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:15 AM | Permalink

    First of all, thank you so much to Pat for posting his amazing list of favorites…well, his lists…lol…I have read many on each of them! I plan to print out this entire post including comments because I am so excited to have some fabulous recs!! I want to do a rec of my own…if you haven’t read anything by Carol Berg, you have to! She is absolutely fantastic! Start with her Rai-Kirah series of 3 books…then read her Bridge of D’Arnath series..there are 4 of those. I fell in love with her books several years ago and I am always puzzled because of the lack of recognition she receives. Her writing reminds me a lot of Pat’s…try her and see what you think!

    And I agree with one of the posters above..Jim Butcher’s Codex of Alera series is excellent!!!

  51. ender8210
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

    You’ve been busy? Read RR Martin. You call yourself well-read? You are an abomination. I loved the new book! And thanks for the list. I saw you in DC and you recommended The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I jumped right into bed with it, and it had its way with me. Fun X-men picture:

  52. ReidAllen
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:21 AM | Permalink


    No H. Beam Piper? His books are worth an honorable mention at least.

    I could understand if he didn’t make your recommended list, but please assuage my concern and say you’ve read/heard of him.

    Best regards

    • Graythebruce
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

      I once did a book report in high school on Piper’s Little Fuzzies. I announced the title of the book and was nearly laughed off stage by the students — and the instructor, who despite teaching a SF lit class, said he’d never heard “of this Piper guy.” Sigh.

      • ReidAllen
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:24 PM | Permalink

        That makes me a little sad. Though I have to admit that Little Fuzzies as a title is kind of questionable to anyone who hasn’t read it.

        Piper is THE SciFi author though. Too bad almost no one has heard of him. I’ve always said that Space Vikings would make an awesome movie, too.

      • Phule77
        Posted July 5, 2011 at 8:06 PM | Permalink

        Are you picking up Scalzi’s redo of “Little Fuzzies”?

  53. kdculb
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:25 AM | Permalink

    I don’t read much SF, I usually stick to fantasy – but I really enjoy The Many Colored Land by Julian May.

  54. Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

    Seriously though. It’s only after the first two books that it really gets into full swing. Robert Jordan, rest his soul, is a masterful writer. 15 books and people who’ve read them. Or want to read them.
    There’s an achievement.

  55. Jon
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

    Glass Books of the Dream Eaters was really interesting, but I found the POV shifts to be a little overlong. I read Left Hand of Darkness as well, and the gender hook is cool. She only scratched the surface of what could be explored there, but that’s the way of great writers, they let you think about what else would occur in their world.

  56. itsjusthim
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:45 AM | Permalink

    I’m so glad you posted this. i was just considering emailing you and asking for recommendations since it’s ABSOLUTELY ENTIRELY your fault that books that were once enjoyable to me seem sub par, but then I started the Wheel of Time series, and after that I’m probably going to do Songs of Ice and Fire.

    Also I kind of want to rob you. Nice collection!

  57. mkferguson
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:49 AM | Permalink

    I would also recommend that anyone who has not read the “Watch” series by Sergey Lukyanenko check it out. Interesting read, unique view of the world, and I found that the cultural perspective in the books to be very intruiguing.

  58. CrymsynEve
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:11 AM | Permalink

    Canticle for Leibowitz! I just read that book a few months ago.

    The Dresden Files are really good, all my copies of the books are so worn out from me re-reading them. I can’t wait for the next one coming out in July. I’m kind of addicted to Jim Butcher..

    And thanks for posting the list! I’ve been ready to cry in the last month and a half because I didn’t have anything to read. Now I do. :)

  59. Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

    I notice you included Sandman, but not Girl Genius. :-)

    I also recommend reading Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I loved that one. And have you read anything else by Brandon Sanderson? I recommend the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, and Way of Kings.

    • Dalar
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

      Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is an excellent book, and one I highly recommend to anyone that enjoyed LOTR or Jane Austen. (I know kind of a weird group of people.) Its got that quirky British humor which is what makes it so charming.

  60. Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:18 AM | Permalink

    I notice you included Sandman, but not Girl Genius. :-)

    I also recommend reading Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I loved that one. And have you read anything else by Brandon Sanderson? I recommend the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, and Way of Kings.

  61. Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:20 AM | Permalink

    I notice you included Sandman, but not Girl Genius. :-)

    I also recommend reading Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I loved that one. And have you read anything else by Brandon Sanderson? I recommend the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, and Way of Kings. Also, Peter V Brett’s Demon Cycle and Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards.

  62. Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:21 AM | Permalink

    I notice you included Sandman, but not Girl Genius. :-)

    I also recommend reading Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I loved that one. And have you read anything else by Brandon Sanderson? I recommend the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, and Way of Kings. Also, Peter V Brett’s Demon Cycle and Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards.

  63. Constance
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    I picture scrivs cataloging and recatloging the Rothfuss collection over and over again in a holy war in their best attempt to organize it all.

  64. PHXDale
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    All your Gaiman praise of late finally convinced me to buy a couple of his books on Ebay last night – anxiously await their arrival. Loved that you mentioned Heinlein and Bradbury – but I must note what I feel to be a grave omission: Where is Stephen Donaldson and the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series?! An absolute must for anyone who ever loved giants or thinks their vocabulary is remotely on par with the masters. First books I’d read in decades that honestly made me reach for a dictionary – but still touched my heart and made me want more and more.

    You touch the heart of everyman, Pat – and I don’t mean that in a ‘creepy bearded guy rubbed my thigh’ kind of way. Donaldson’s touch is not as genteel as your own, but he sure keeps my lexicon jug adequately filled to the brim.

    • Phaedron
      Posted June 26, 2011 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

      When I was reading the post, I was also curious if the first Thomas Covenant trilogy would have made the cut. I remember really enjoying the series when I was in high school. But… I was in high school. I haven’t re-read it since. I was probably in college when I read the second trilogy, and I remember not liking it nearly as much. There’s even been a third trilogy, I guess, but I feel no ambition to go there…

      • 9lives
        Posted June 27, 2011 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

        Those books where some of the first Fantasy books I ever read. I think I was a little to young to really get everything that was going on, but the left an impression. I’ve read them on and off again over many years and still enjoy them. The Gap Cycle also makes the cut for me. Some of the most loathsome characters I’ve ever read, but I still want to know what happens to them. Also thank you, thank you for writing these lists. I just finished about everything on my “to read” pile and I was starting the “click on random book in amazon” to find something new.

  65. Shadow
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    I’m surprised that Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series made it on the list. I managed to read the first book but couldn’t force myself to read any more then the first couple of chapters in the second book.

    And don’t worry about reading more of the Wheel of Time series it really drops off after the frist couple of books, I stopped reading them after the 8th book it just wasn’t worth the effort to find out the ending to the story.

    Anyway it looks like I have a lot of reading to do this summer, which is a good thing since I have a couple of books coming out in October.

    • yakaji
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

      Actually, I’d say Wheel of Time really hits its stride in Books 4-6, with most of the others being strong except 8 and 10, which are honestly pretty bad. I’ve found that, even among serious fans of the series, it’s hard to find many people who remember what happened in those books (The Path of Daggers and Crossroads of Twilight, for those who prefer titles to numbers)

      For my part, the standout omissions from Pat’s three lists (many of which have been mentioned above) are the following two:

      1. Anything by Iain M. Banks, but primarily his Culture novels. I haven’t quite read all his stuff, but “Use of Weapons” is probably my favorite, just because it includes The Sentence. If you’ve read the book, you should know which sentence this means.

      2. Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Years of Rice and Salt”. The rest of KSR has never done much for me, but “Years” is far and away one of the greatest SF/F novels of the last few decades.

      And similarly, I think there’s a standout SUCCESSFULLY AVOIDED in all the lists and comments. Thank God no one suggested the “Sword of Truth” series be in there.

  66. fireflykid
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley. Part horror, part Beauty & the Beast story, and part inspiration to eat really tasty desserts. Probably one of the best vampire books written in the last decade. Also my favorite book of all time, ever.

    SWORDSPOINT by Ellen Kushner. “A comedy of manners”, as she calls it, set in a city that’s partway between Renaissance-era Venice and Regency-era London, with a dose of modern-era Brooklyn. One of the very few books I’ve ever read wherein same-sex relationships were as unquestionably accepted by the society as opposite-sex ones. Also, there are incredible sword fights, and dubiously moral main characters.

    THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I know they’re super trendy right now, but these books are quite serious in their exploration of war, rebellion and what it is to be a child soldier. And I keep looking at our country/society today and thinking of passages I read in the books – it’s unsettling, actually, how well Collins read our culture, here.

    THESE OLD SHADES by Georgette Heyer. A fantasy only insofar as it’s set in that magical realm of RomanceLandia, where every love story ends happily and every villain gets what he deserves. I am really just recommending you read Heyer herself, but TOS is a good place to start. (Or BEAUVALLET. Or THE GRAND SOPHY. Or FRIDAY’S CHILD. Or…)

  67. StewFever
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    I know your list is long and I feel for you. But as you had included some YA SF/F in your lists above I was a little shocked to see two truly amazing and, for me, inspiring series left off the (increasingly) lengthy list.

    1) The Dark is Rising – Susan M Cooper
    2) The Black Cauldron – Llyod Alexander

    I don’t remember a time when I hadn’t read The Dark is Rising, possibly making it one of the first SF/F I ever read. But amazingly as an adult I still love it and reread through the last few books every few months. These were really two of my go to series on rainy days as a kid.

    • MouetteSheridan
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

      I’ve been terrified of going back and rereading Dark is Rising books. They’re so beautiful, so elegant and incredible, in my memory that I am honestly scared of trying to reread them again and having them not hold up to the memory.

      Not all books have that problem – I wouldn’t hesitate to reread the Eddings book again, though it’s been more than a decade since I last read the Belgariad. But that’s because I wouldn’t expect them to be as good as they were to me back then. Still good, but I wouldn’t mourn for the fact that years of reading fantasy has probably made them less fantastic for me, since I’ve grown as a reader. (Though there was the earlier comment about rereading them often, maybe they’ll hold up better than I think).

      But Dark is Rising… I couldn’t stand to read those again and have them not be as wonderful, enchanting, and poignant as they were years and years ago, when I used to reread them frequently. After twelve or thirteen years… I want to reread them, but I would almost rather let them live in my memory with their gentle golden glow, than try again only to have them dim.

      • Sedulo
        Posted June 26, 2011 at 5:09 AM | Permalink

        When The Dark comes rising
        Six shall turn it back
        Three from the Circle, Three from the track
        Wood, bronze, iron, water, fire, stone
        Five shall return and one go alone.

        They are still so good. What made them amazing for me was that I was frightened and so were the characters. I read them out of order too. I think I read the Grey King first, then The Dark Is Rising.

  68. Pontus
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    I re-read the first in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy (The Knife of Never Letting Go) recently and enjoyed it enormously, so much so in fact that I went ahead and bought the second book immediately afterwards. It’s easily as powerful as, say, Flowers for Algernon, and has at least one heartbreaking moment in it.

  69. Gingershana
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    I’ve read over 50% of all the books on your lists, which is awesome, because now I have another 30 or so books to add to my ‘to read’ list. But I can’t believe no one has mentioned Charles DeLint. One of my all time favorites, most definitely.

    • Renny
      Posted June 28, 2011 at 8:26 AM | Permalink

      I have only read a couple of his books, what order would you recommend reading them in?

  70. sabrejames
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    A few more suggestions:

    Temerie Series by Naomi Novak — very interesting take on Dragons and well placed historically. Very entertaining and interesting

    Also all of Peter F. Hamilton’s books, Commonwealth Saga, and Night’s Dawn are very good.

  71. Akularael
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    I have read some of those on your list, And I am glad you put Jim Butcher on there it seems to me that he hardly ever makes it onto these kinds of lists.

    Also even without being able to read the titles I can recognize many books on your shelves from the picture. I have read more of those than i have on your list.

  72. May
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    These lists are great!

    I’m relieved that A Song of Ice and Fire at least appeared on your to-read-list. ;) You really have to read it – fast! I think it’s awesome!

    And I personally really enjoy James Clemens!

  73. Blarghedy
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    At first I was going to comment, and then I wasn’t… and now I just hope you haven’t already seen this.

    (It’s about Gaiman)

    On a note somewhat more related to your book collection, that’s also been a dream of mine (getting all books together). Currently I live in a room that is something like 10×15 ft. It’s rather small, as dorms are wont to be, so I have little room for stuff. I think only about half of my books are here, and most of those are under my bed.

  74. ResearchMom
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    For those still looking for more titles…
    Scott Lynch – The Lies of Locke Lamora (and if his third book does not come out this year I will sit down and weep like a baby)
    Adrian Tchaikovsky – Shadows of the Apt series (get over your insect phobias and try it – he’s done some very clever things in his world)
    Isaac Asimov – Foundation (enough said. I bow to the Master)
    Andrzej Sapkovski – spawned the Witcher game, AND revisited every old European folklore / myth that scared you as a child in a fresh way. A translation, but a beautiful one.
    Brent Weeks – Night Angel trilogy (gritty and raw; if James Bond were a fantasy character…)
    Robert V. S. Redick – Red Wolf Conspiracy
    C.S. Friedman – anything, really, but her Coldfire Trilogy is breathtaking
    Simon Green – if you are a fan of Jim Butcher, you need to read Simon’s series Hawk and Fisher. may be out of print but worth searching for. The dry wit and repartee of the characters is memorable
    And finally… Joe Abercrombie. Any book of his gets a place on the shelf. As Nero Wolfe would say, Satisfactory…

  75. brooklynapple
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

    Two words: China Mieville.

    While most people love his trilogy that begins with Perdido Street Station, my favorite by far is The Scar, easily one of the most creative and engaging fantasy books I’ve ever read.

  76. Erzberger
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

    For some reason I could never finish The Neverending Story…


  77. wolfeyez77
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    Hey Pat,

    Aside from your own series, I’m a big fan of Kim Harrison’s the Hollow series, and if you enjoy Time Travel stories like myself, the Doomsday Book is very good. She has a few others, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Black Out, and All Clear. The last 2 are very informative, but they are a bit long.

    Enjoy your summer reading!

  78. Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been reading a good bit of Karen Miller’s stuff lately. The Kingmaker Kingbreaker duology followed by The Fisherman’s Children.
    BTW. I hope you know you just made my Amazon wishlist grow ..again.

  79. Jexral
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:24 AM | Permalink

    Hey – in that picture of your bookcase, what is that really pretty yellow-y/orange-y book on the bottom shelf, third from the left? Anyone know?

    The only contribution I would make to that list is “Mordant’s Need” by Stephen R. Donaldson. I haven’t read his other books (though I have intended to for quite some time), but those books are really pretty great.

  80. Lochcelious
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    SO glad you have Flatland and His Dark Materials up there but I’ve a question. Ever read the Abhorsen trilogy (the first book is Sabriel) by Garth Nix?

  81. Yrth
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    Seeing McKillip up there makes me want to reread her stuff for the ten thousandth time.
    …Well at least Riddle-Master and Forgotten Beasts

    • Yrth
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

      Although I just did a quick search on the page,
      only 1 other person mentioned McKillip – how can a series as good as Riddlemaster be so obscure???

      • MouetteSheridan
        Posted June 25, 2011 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

        I have nooooo idea, I really don’t. Every time I try to get fantasy-loving friends to read it, I’m disappointed. They never seem to get more than halfway into the first book.

        Oooo, Forgotten Beasts. Another for the re-read list.

        But RiddleMaster… it’s one of the few books that I even remember how it came to me, because it was one of the few that I didn’t pick out for myself. I hadn’t ever heard of it or seen it (or since, read anyone else who’d read or liked it), but one Christmas it showed up under the tree for me. This was odd – not that it was a book, but that it was a book I hadn’t picked. My parents are not readers; most of the time, they’d ask me for a list and pick things from it to get for me.

        I eyed RiddleMaster, and Mom said that when she saw it, it just spoke my name to her. All readers know how perilous it can be for loving, well-meaning family members to buy books for you – but in this case, damn. Knocked it out of the freaking ballpark by a million miles.

        …I’m sorry, I need to go look at my shelves now to see if I have RM here, or if I need to call home and beg for them to send it to me.

  82. elmobob14
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

    No GRRM?! Now you’re just making a statement.

    Also: Joe Abercrombie.

  83. taconista
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    Just the one wall of your library gives me a bit of library envy. :-) Some little girls dream about their weddings from the time they’re three; I had been dreaming about my library. I finally bought my own home in December. One of the requirements was that it should have a room I could make into a library (books only, no computer or miscelleneous crap). Screw company; they can sleep on the couch. I want my library. It is evolving beautifully. The walls (what can be seen above the bookcases) are Dagobah green with a pale green ceiling; the floor is covered with a jewel colored Persian rug; and the papasan reading chair comfortably holds me and both dogs. Most of the books are out of the boxes, and I need to start planning for expansion soon. I’m in love with my perfect little library.

    Awesome list of recommendations!

    • SarahMarie
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

      Oh thank God! I’m not the only one woh has been dreaming of a library since they were little. I always wanted mine to be like the library in Beauty and the Beast. The best library (in my opinion) ever!

      • taconista
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

        Yes! Yes! Floor to ceiling books with staircases and walkways and a fireplace, etc.! So many books!!

      • MouetteSheridan
        Posted June 25, 2011 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

        Yes, yes yes :D I remember designing my own library shelves when I was in my early teens – something about shelves that were almost like… you know those storage places in entertainment centers, how sometimes they’ll have doors that swing open and you can put movies inside the doors, as well as in the cabinet itself? Like that. I wanted shelves that could be pulled out, mostly because I knew that there would never be enough room if I didn’t double them up somehow…

        I was a lucky girl. My dad put floor to ceiling shelves along one entire wall in my room before I was 15. They’re full, and there’s boxes of books still not on them. Silly me, moving away to Texas for school where I can’t take my shelves with me :(

  84. AtheistPreacher
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    A few thoughts:

    1. I’m glad Hobb’s Farseer Triology was #1 on your “runners-up” list. They would be on my own top-10.

    2. Count me as fan #4,678,540 who is somewhat shocked by the fact that you’ve never read Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.

    3. About Watership Down… this is one of only two books (Ender’s Game is the other) which if I see it in a used book store for a reasonable price, I buy it just to give away. Both of these books are easy to read and almost universally appealing, even to folks who don’t normally like sci-fi or fantasy. I actually tend to think that there’s something wrong with anyone who doesn’t like either of these. They’re always my very first SF/Fantasy recommendations.

    4. Lastly, the only books which I love but that I don’t see on your lists at all are Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos, comprised of four books: Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion. Just to start with, it would be fair to say that these books actually changed my life, since they introduced me to the theology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I’m now working on a PhD in Process Studies at the Claremont School of Theology, and it’s a career path I may never have pursued if I hadn’t discovered Teilhard through Simmons’ books. But the books aren’t even primarily about religious thought at all… it’s just one element in a hugely complex tapestry of cross-cultural ideas. Simmons draws from seemingly everywhere and yet manages to weave a very coherent story.

    And I’m not alone in loving Simmons. One survey of the top 100 sci-fi books of all time has Hyperion at #15, right behind Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Arthur C Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, and right ahead of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. That’s some pretty good company.

    • AtheistPreacher
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

      Oh, and I may as well mention, the same folks who did the above Sci-Fi list did a Fantasy Top 100 as well… Name of the Wind is currently sitting at #43. :)

    • Sorensencamille
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

      I also love the Hyperion books, and have to say they changed my life. Such a brilliant and almost sideways look at a futuristic humanity. After reading these books I became obsessed with the idea of “Time Debt” and how that would impact interstellar travel. My favorite part of these books is how he seamlessly draws ideas from the past, mixing citations from real historical figures, and fictional ones.

  85. Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

    One of my favorite YA authors, John Green, had a similar conundrum with his vast home library so he cataloged it using a handy device called Library Thing.

    I’m embarking on a similar mission this summer. My perpetual problem is bookshelf space.

  86. Graeme
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    Personally i’m not a huge fan of “classic” fantasy and sci-fi, with the exception of LOTR, Narnia and Dune. I find most books by the likes of Orwell maddeningly hard to get into. I respect what they’ve done for the genre but have never been able to enjoy them. In addition i attempted to read the Sword of Shannara but was so disgusted by what a blatant copy of LOTR it was that i was unable to get more than a hundred pages in

  87. Graeme
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:11 PM | Permalink

    I just realized my previous post was terribly negative so I apologize for that. On a more postive note I agree with much of Pats list. My top picks for for fantasy reads are as follows:

    KingKiller Chronicle – Patrick Rothfuss (obviously)
    The Gentleman Bastard Sequence – Scott Lynch
    anything – Brandon Sanderson
    The Wheel Of Time – Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (They’re really not as bad as people make them sound, if you don’t have a problem with lengthy reads or following multiple perspectives they are quite enjoyable)

  88. jaimo
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:15 PM | Permalink

    I’m also a big fan of anything Christopher Moore. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher was a really good read. I have yet to read it’s conclusion, Sapphique, but if it’s even close to being as good as Incarceron, I would highly recommend it.

  89. poetico
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Pat, everyone for your comments! I’m sure if any of us was “searching” for something to read, we’re not anymore!

    I have two additions not yet on here:

    The Rifters trilogy by Peter Watts, beginning with Starfish. It’s a pretty unique storyline as it is set mostly under water.

    The Tales of the Otori series by Lian Hearn. Feudal japan and the mysterious “tribe”… great characters, very easy to get into.

  90. TheGreyOne
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

    Jacqueline Carey has some pretty good series too.

    • dancer7887
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

      LOVE the Kushiel series. It’s amazing. All 6 of them. The last series of Naamah’s trilogy is good, but not as much in my opinion.

  91. iadknet
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    Oh, and I meant to add that I was amazed and pleased to see The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, by Barry Hughart. A very under-appreciated book.

  92. crawlspaceage
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    Others have nibbled around the edges here but I must ask straight out, why haven’t you read Song of Ice and Fire? Not telling you to or condeming it just seems intentional and I, and many others I’m sure, are just curious. If you said it wasn’t one of your favorites after reading, to each their own, but to not have read one of the seminal works in a genre you love just comes across as odd. It’s like Scorcese never really getting around to watching the Godfather. And when addressing it saying he might, maybe, get around to it this summer. I think your fans are genuinely curious. I know my buddies are.

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

      A Song of Ice and Fire is a serious undertaking, not just one of those series that people just pick up and read when they get a spare moment. I have not yet read A Feast for Crows because it is such a big novel and I want to take my time to read and enjoy it, but I just dont have the time available to do it.

      I think saying that he will get to it when it gets to it is a perfectly valid statement

    • MouetteSheridan
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

      And it may not be intentional. I *just* picked up ASOIAF, though I’d consider myself a heavy fantasy reader since I was ten or so. It’s not that I’ve been avoiding it, but there are so many, many good books to read. I simply never got around to it, or got distracted, or shied away from the somewhat painful reputation it has in terms of Bad Things Happen.

      And as Ryan there says, yeah. It’s not something you just pick up and idly blow through. It’s traumatic and harsh and beautiful, and needs to be given time, and attention, to really get the full experience out of it.

  93. dancer7887
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

    haha. I like the comment you wrote next to Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. Because seriously, you NEED to read it. And I have to admit, the HBO TV series did a good job of sticking to the important stuff and adding their own bits to move the story along. But read the books first, definitely. Book 5 comes out in 2.5 weeks!!!

  94. ericturner29
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    When I saw that you hadn’t yet read Martin’s books I immediately thought of your book jacket blurb on Sanderson, ala: “Sanderson is so good it’s starting to piss me off”

    Don’t read Martin unless you’re prepared to be really pissed off.

    • dancer7887
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

      I agree. His writing is amazing and the story doesn’t just go along the way you expect it to. It has some nice twists and turns.

  95. ericturner29
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

    Overall it’s an interesting exercise because I think one needs to read LOTR to be reasonably well read in the genre, but I don’t think they’re very good. (Same for Harry Potter)

  96. glo7
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    Dude. How could you not have Peter V. Brett’s The Warded Man and Desert Spear listed?

  97. JamesKeenan
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    I sent a message. But I am dogged, so I’ll go that extra mile and leave a comment, too. A lot of work, I know.

    Have you read -The Gone-Away World-? It am consistently astounded at how popular it isn’t, with regard to how amazingly good it was. It’s even popular, but it should be MORE popular. More praise. Super praise.

    It’s one of the most uniquely awesome books I’ve ever read. It is the book I would take with me to the past and publish as my own. No doubt in my mind. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d just steal credit for it. And I have a strong feeling you would enjoy it, too.

    • sethbu
      Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

      The Gone-Away World is one of my favorite books ever. Definitely. Consistently funny, incredible plot, and…I’m not going to give it away. Read it. The narration style actually reminds me a lot of NotW and WMF.

      I check Nick Harkaway’s website monthly just to see if he is ever going to write another book.

  98. Sandra
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

    Last days I thought about selling/swapping a lot of my books, but after I have seen your shelves and reading about the other shelves in your home, I will keep my beloved books! Even if this means to move again with thousands of it … Thanks for pushing me in that direction :-)
    And thanks for the recommendation list, I shared it in a german book forum.

    • Sandra
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 1:11 AM | Permalink

      We just talked about and would like to post a list of german science fiction and fantasy titles you should not miss! :-D

  99. Huck Chaser
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

    The only books from my A++ list that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere are the Vlad Taltos books by Steven Brust and the Prince of Nothing trilogy by R. Scott Bakker.

    Otherwise, you listed a bunch of my favorites, and gave me plenty of new reading material to boot!

    • mandati
      Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

      I second Prince of Nothing. I’m surprised it’s not on everybody’s top list.

  100. ickle_tayto
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

    excellent list.. will have to print it out and tick off what I have read and then figure out how to get a loan to buy the others :o)

    btw if you can, do read the Fionavar tapestry do.. I can’t promise you won’t cry though.

Post a Reply to brrbear Cancel reply

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Our Store

  • Previous Posts

  • Archives

  • My Twitter

  • Bookmark this Blog

    (IE and Firefox users only - Safari users, click Command-D)