List ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “great” works, just the ones that have touched you.
I’m going to really blatantly cheat and include series as individual books. Just warning you.
1. The Oxford Time Travel Series by Connie Willis (Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, and All Clear) To Say Nothing of the Dog has been my favorite book for going on five years now. The entire series is brilliantly plotted and written, with incredible worldbuilding in a near-future Oxford populated with believably flawed and sharp characters.
2. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman One of the few science fiction ‘classics’ that’s held up for me. Haldeman wrote the novel as his MFA thesis for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop before serializing in Analog Magazine. After receiving his BS in Astronomy and Physics Joe was drafted into the Army and served as a combat engineer in Vietnam. The Forever War draws heavily from his experiences as a vocal opponent of conscription, but never feels heavy handed or preachy. If you think military scifi’s not your bag, I’d give it a read.
3. The Hainish Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin I love the entire ‘series’ (I use the term loosely, since the novels/shorts don’t really share characters and are simply set in the same universe). My tattoo is a portion of a quote from The Dispossessed ‘I come with empty hands and the desire to unbuild walls.’ Le Guin’s a fine writer and a brilliant worldbuilder whose philosophies bleed brightly through everything she creates.
4. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli It doesn’t hold up quite as well as some of the others on the list, but I read Maniac Magee a dozen or more times in primary school. Still one of the greatest opening chapters I’ve ever read.
5. Tortall series by Tamora Pierce They’re so wonderfully interwoven it’s nigh impossible to pick a favorite, but Pierce introduced me to asskicking ladies in fantasy and I’ll be forever greatful.
6. The Patternist Series by Octavia Butler A dark and thought-provoking look into the psychology of immortality. Also a biting social commentary on issues ranging from post-colonialism and slavery to Western modernity.
7. The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson I adore all of Ibbotson’s work, which is largely aimed at middle-grade readers, but Platform 13 is a gem. A magical island hidden from the world in mist, a portal between King’s Cross station and the island that opens only nine days every nine years, a kidnapping, ghosts, hags, and all manner of wonderful delights in this adventurous romp.
8. The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan I’m ambivalent about most of Tan’s work, but I couldn’t for the life of me set this book down. Poignant and very interestingly structured.
9. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke The sequels are nothing to write home about, but Rendezvous with Rama is my favorite of Clarke’s works. The premise and design of Rama (the ship, itself) are chillingly alien in the best, classic scifi way. It’ll be a dream of a movie if it ever moves out of development hell. Also sporting one of the greatest last paragraphs in fiction:
And on far-off Earth, Dr. Carlisle Perera had as yet told no one how he had wakened from a restless sleep with the message from his subconscious still echoing in his brain: The Ramans do everything in threes.
10. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede Eminently charming, funny, and quotable. Kickass heroines and all sorts of trope subversions. As a kid I wanted to grow up to be Morwen. Or Cimorene. Or Kazul. Basically all of the characters were my heroes.