I read a lot of books, mostly science fiction and fantasy. This list is what I consider to be the very best of those genres.
Also, here are my posts relating to books.
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
The first time I read this book, I went through the whole thing three times in about two days. This is an awesome book. It is about a five-year-old genius that is basically drafted into the military in a war against alien bugs. It sounds cheesy, but it isn’t. I would recommend it to any sci-fi fan. The first three sequels are good but in a different way. They are more hard core sci-fi, and they go off in a different direction from Ender’s Game. Card is writing a new trilogy of books that are more in the style of the first book, I highly recommend them. The first one, Ender’s Shadow is a parallel novel to Ender’s Game. All the same events take place, but it is from a different perspective.
The Malazan Book of The Fallen – Stephen Erikson
I imported the first few books of this series when they were only available in the UK and was blown away. They are by far the freshest and best written epic fantasy in some time. The world of these books is dark, complicated, and textured, and Erikson drops you right into the middle of events without explaining what is going on. Once you think you finally have it figured out, you find out a key piece of information and the whole thing twists. I have never read a series where it seems like the author has such a solid vision of where he is going and how he will get there. Conversations and actions in the first book that did not make a lot of sense at the time suddenly become clear two or three books further in. There is a huge cast of characters, yet the pacing stays even as he rotates the viewpoint between them. Miraculously, the quality of each successive book has just gone up. If you enjoy epic fantasy, do yourself a favor and try these. The first book is somewhat confusing and hard to get into, but by the second book everything gels and it’s hard to put them down.
Hyperion Cantos – Dan Simmons
This is a four book series split into two parts. The first two books are hands down the best hard sci-fi since Dune. The first book has pilgrims going on a journey and telling their stories in the fashion of the Canterbury Tales. The second book is the equivalent of a 500 page climax to the first book. I have never before read such a complex blending of science, politics, and character development where it all worked perfectly. The third and fourth books are totally different in tone, being a love/adventure story set in the bizarre aftermath of the first two books. The end of the fourth book is the most emotionally moving fiction I have ever read and is a fitting end to the Cantos. If you enjoy hard sci-fi, then you need to read these books. The third book bogs down a little, but it is more than worth it for the last half of the fourth.