Reading List

This summer, I’m reading 50 books. I had a few rules to help me decide exactly which 50 I would tackle:

  • Novels Only…for the most part: I have a play, a novella, and an epic poem on the list: the point is I’m focusing on long fiction rather than short fiction this summer—the two short story collections I have are joined by common characters, themes and/or narrators.
  • One Work per Author: the only exception to this is Stanislaw Lem, but including only two books by Lem and not five or six showed considerable restraint on my part.
  • No Re-Reads: As much as I’d love to re-read Diana Wynn Jones’ Dark Lord of Derkholm for the one millionth time, I’m trying to expand my horizons with this project. Along those lines…
  • Aim for Variety: My main interests are SF and Fantasy, so those genres make up the majority of the list, but I wanted a lot of variety and a pseudo-serious genre study, so I tried to include a lot of different sub-genres (post apocalyptic, cyberpunk, sword and sorcery, weird fiction etc…) and throw in some genres outside of fantasy/sf with some detective fiction, espionage, gothic, and even some literary fiction for good measure.

To choose which books to read, I did some very thorough and serious research (meaning I putzed around the internet for a while) using the following sources:

The result is the following list of 50 books, ranging from children’s to adult, from the 2nd century to 2017, and from Assyria, Belgium, Japan, Finland, Poland and beyond:

  1. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (2016)
  2. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (2014)
  3. Beyond Apollo by Barry N. Malzberg (1972)
  4. The Blue Star by Fletcher Pratt (1952)
  5. The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson (1954)
  6. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov (1953)
  7. Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino (1965, transl. William Weaver 1968)
  8. The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem (1965, transl. Michael Kandel 1974)
  9. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951)
  10. Doctor Rat by William Kotzwinkle (1976)
  11. The Synthetic Man (alt. The Dreaming Jewels) by Theodore Sturgeon (1950)
  12. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (1970)
  13. Five Children and It by E. Nesbitt (1902)
  14. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire by Michael Bishop (1975)
  15. The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem (1971, transl. Michael Kandel 1974)
  16. The Garden of the Plynck by Karle Wilson Baker (1920)
  17. The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (2017)
  18. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett (1989)
  19. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1972)
  20. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglass Adams (1979)
  21. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (1901)
  22. The Kalevala compiled by Elias Lönnrot (1849, transl. Keith Bosley 1990)
  23. Masters of the Maze by Avram Davidson (1965)
  24. Neuromancer by William Gibson 1984
  25. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (1979, transl. Ralph Manheim 1983)
  26. Options by Robert Sheckley (1975)
  27. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (2000)
  28. Phantastes by George MacDonald (1858)
  29. The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (1890)
  30. A Plague of Demons by Keith Laumer (1965)
  31. The Road to Corlay by Richard Cowper (1978)
  32. R.U.R. by Karel Čapek (1920 transl. Paul Selver, 1923)
  33. The Shaving of Shagpat by George Meredith (1856)
  34. Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg (1992, transl. Tiina Nunnally 1993)
  35. Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patti Yumi Cottrell (2017)
  36. Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami (1999, transl. Philip Gabriel 2001)
  37. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré (1963)
  38. Starship and Haiku by S. P. Somtow (1981)
  39. Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis (1956)
  40. A True Story by Lucian of Samosata (2nd century)
  41. The Unsleeping Eye by D. G. Compton (1973)
  42. Uprooted by Naomi Novik (2015)
  43. Vathek by William Beckford (1787, transl. Samuel Henley, 1786)
  44. A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay (1920)
  45. What Entropy Means to Me by George Alec Effinger (1972)
  46. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)
  47. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)
  48. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1963)
  49. Xipehuz by J. H. Rosny (1888, transl. Scott Nicolay 2017)
  50. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (2007)