31st of Jan '18 @ 12:59 PM
So glad you asked.
There are so many books out there to read! It all depends on what you like, really.
There are a lot of contemporary YA books that are extremely popular, but I don't read a lot in that genre, so you may notice them missing off my list. (PS: many of the ones I've listed, I named the first book, but they are actually trilogies or series)
Firstly, if you just have no idea, lists are overwhelming, and you don't want to think about making the decision, then I'll make it for you: Pick up any book by Brandon Sanderson. Mistborn is my recommendation. Elantris, Steelheart, or many of his others are also good choices (just don't start with the Stormlight Archive
But onward to genre...Straight-up Fantasy
- Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson is not only an excellent standalone, and an even better trilogy, it's a very good choice for where to start with his books. He is THE name in fantasy right now. His lectures and podcasts are pretty much what taught me to write.
- Name of the Wind by Pat Rothfuss - beware, the third book is not out yet and he's a slow writer.
- Song of Ice and Fire - the books are much, much, much richer and complex than the TV show. An old fantasy classic, despite the recent trendiness.
- Earthsea: most of Harry Potter is based on ideas that can be found in Earthsea. Ursula LeGuin passed away last week, sadly. She's widely regarded as one of the most well-respected fantasy authors of all time.
- The Deathsniffer's Assistant: I need to plug this book written by one of my agent's other clients. It's SO creative, and I have a mad crush on the main character. It's not an age-old classic like the rest of these books, but it's really really good! Second book came out recently, and keep an eye out for the third!YA Fantasy
- Leviathan by Scott Westerfield has it all: steampunk machines, fantastical beasts, a prince on the run, and a girl pretending to be a boy so she can join the airforce.
- The Hunger Games - of the popular YA Dystopian books taking the industry by storm, the Hunger Games is by far the best.
- The Giver - however, as long as we're calling dystopian a subgenre of fantasy, I must point out, they are ALL taking from the Giver, which is a genius, heartfelt masterpiece you can read in one afternoon.
- The Golden Compass - Richly complex and beautifully executed. Not recommended for the theologically sensitive.
- Sabriel - Massive nostalgia with this one. Dark fantasy feel. The Abhorsen manipulates spirits of the dead using seven different-pitched bells - usually trying to send undead *back* to the seven layers of the underworld. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.Urban Fantasy
- I'm not the best one to recommend these because I don't read very widely in the genre. There are all sorts of awesome series that are worth looking up.
- One series, however, that I LOVE love love, is the Dresden Files. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for? It's fun, it's adventurous, it has magic and explosions and mystery and crime, and it's just the most fun you'll have reading a book any time soon.Straight-up Sci-fi
- Foundation: If you haven't read sci-fi before, start here. There are no words for how much genius is in Asimov's books.
- I, Robot: Also a good collection of short stories for getting started in Asimov-type sci-fi.
- Dune: When you're ready to move up to the big guns, Dune is a giant among mortals. Dune is genius. Dune is genre-defining. Dune is to sci-fi what LOTR was to fantasy.
- Neuromancer: If you want a challenge, this is one of the best sci-fi books of all time, but it's so complex and confusing, a book has never made me feel so dumb. It's brilliant, it almost single-handedly created the cyberpunk genre, and it has some of the most beautiful prose ever written in sci-fi, but it's NOT for the faint of heart.
- Ender's Game: You can't read sci-fi and not read this book. It's a fast, easy read (technically YA, and very short), but full of clever ideas smashed together with super exciting Battle-Room fights. It's actually the "underdog sports movie" archetype, underneath all the spacey stuff.Horror
- Stephen King is the master here, and I recommend starting with Salem's Lot or Carrie, simply because that's where I started.
- For a YA/Horror crossover (described as "teenage Dexter"
, I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells is a really good read. (Dan Wells also wrote a lot of good YA fantasy and dystopian - have not read them myself, but recommend looking into them)Romance
- Pride and Prejudice is one of the best romances ever written. I do personally enjoy Emma as much if not more, but I have to say, P&P has a staying power beyond the rest of Jane Austen's works. People who like romance often read it multiple times throughout their lives. It's the pinnacle of the genre.
- Ever wanted to a read a regency romance in a fantasy setting? Mary Robinette Kowal, apart from being super friendly and lovable, is also an excellent, super-historically-accurate romance writer. Accurate except for the magic part, that is. Check out Shades of Milk and Honey to embark on the adventure.Serious Classics
- One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest - takes place in a mental hospital and I'm not even sure what to say about it, other than that it's memorable and powerful.
- East of Eden - I personally thought this one was much better than Grapes of Wrath.
- Lord of the Flies - Absolute classic. One of those books everyone must read once in their lives.
- 1984 - Similarly. Especially today, there's some deeply unsettling foresight that feels like it predicts what's going on in the world. While often listed alongside Brave New World, I think 1984 is superior in every way.
- Watership Down - Very unique. Criticized for being misogynistic in places, but still touches on some powerful topics. Do not be fooled; it features rabbits and they made a cartoon out of it, but it's not for kids.
- A Clockwork Orange - In case you feel like reading something extremely disturbing, this powerful classic gets you on a deep, psychological level. It's very short, surprisingly so for the impact it has. To this day I refuse to see the movie. The book was unsettling enough.
- Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Like Jane Austen, only depressing.
- To Kill A Mockingbird - I almost forgot to put this on the list because I assumed everyone's already read this one in high school.Books I Have Not Read But I Hear Are Extremely Recommended
- American Gods
- Little Women
- Jane Eyre
- The Scarlet Letter
- Love in the Time of Cholera
- Wheel of Time
- Starship Troopers
- MANY more! Look up on google "Top 10 -genre of choice- books"!