Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Nerd Reading, Exposed

So, being both 1) a good liberal NPR-listener, and 2) a nerdy science-fiction/fantasy/horror fan (though not nearly as much as I was back in my high school and college years), I, of course, voted in NPR's survey to pick the Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books. You can look over the list there; here, I'm going to do what you're supposed to do with these lists: go through the whole thing, and mark the ones I've read. Everyone can play along! But let's make this interesting: give yourself one point for each one you're read, and let's compare scores. And so...

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert--part credit, here: I read (and loved) the original Dune, read (and grew increasingly disappointed in) Dune Messiah, attempted to read (but abandoned) Children of Dune, never even tried to read the fourth "official" book in the series, God Emperor of Dune. So, give me about one-third point for this one.
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson--I think I should double-credit here, since I read not only this first trilogy, but the second one as well. I haven't read any of the books from the final, recent trilogy, though a couple of friends of mine insist they're worth their weight in gold.
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart--excuse me, but this is absolute nonsense: you're only going to rank a single volume of Mary Stewart's masterful Merlin series? You're not going to give any credit for The Hollow Hills or The Last Enchantment (or, for that matter, the later, "addendum" to the series, The Wicked Day)? Sorry, but I'm calling bullshit on this. I insist that those who haven't read the whole series decline to give themselves a point for this one book.
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

So, I end up (counting my protests about Dune and Thomas Covenant) with 32.3 points. How about you?


Jacob T. Levy said...


Russell Arben Fox said...

Break it down for me, Jacob! What have you read that I missed?

Kaimi said...

I come in at 34.8

I've read 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26, 30, 31, 33, 35, 39, 42, 43, 48, 52, 53, 61, 63, 66, 69, 74, 98, and 99.

I've also read significant parts (.3) of 12, 23, 41, and 67, and 2/3 of the Mars trilogy (95).

Timothy Burke said...

Ok. Well.



There's 17 I haven't read. A few series like Wheel of Time where I quit short of the full thing.

Russell Arben Fox said...

That's pretty incredible, Tim. Good job! Um, could I ask what you haven't read?

Edje said...

Score: 25

9: Brave New World
11: The Princess Bride
20: Frankenstein
37: 20k Leagues Under the Sea
39: War of the Worlds
43: Mistborn
45: Left Hand of Darkness
72: Journey to the Center of the Earth
80: Wicked
88: Thrawn Trilogy (Star Wars)
91: Illustrated Man

I recommend Mistborn. Brave New World was important to me when I read it in high school and I think is worth reading as counterpoint to 1984. I recall Princess Bride being fun, much like the movie, but in different ways also. I threw my copy of Wicked in a trash can upon completion.

From your list, the ones on my radar are:
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson

Any recommendations on which should move up in my queue?

Timothy Burke said...

Have not read the Vonneguts, the Pratchetts, Mistborn, WWZ, The Road, Farseer, Kushiel, Malazan, Alera, Sunshine, Way of Kings. Haven't read but have seen Handmaid's.

Wm said...


Ricketson said...

Good timing... With these riots in London, I've been thinking a lot about "A Clockwork Orange" (#30).

Ricketson said...


Edje, I recommend "A Canticle for Liebowitz" (if you like dark humor).

I posted my list at my blog.

Aeon J. Skoble said...

I strenuously object to only getting one point each for the Conan, Sandman, Covenant, Zelanzny, and other series.

Russell Arben Fox said...

How much Conan and Covenant have you read, Aeon? As I mentioned, I read the first and second Covenant trilogies way back in the 1980s; I wasn't even aware that Donaldson had returned to the character until this year, and I don't know if I'll ever get around to reading the final trilogy (especially since I've been told that I need to re-read the first six books to understand what's happening!). As for Conan, I believe I had about seven paperback collections of Conan stories, and I thought I was a completist there. Exactly how many Conan stories did Robert E. Howard write, anyway?

Edje said...

Thanks, Ricketson.

AbbotOfUnreason said...

I think the inclusion of series is a cheat, especially as some of the series never seem to end.

By your system of reckoning, I've got about 69 1/2. I want points for all the Miéville ones!

Russell Arben Fox said...

I think the inclusion of series is a cheat

How so, Abbot? I only insisted on a series being counted in one case (the Mary Stewart Merlin trilogy), I think. I gave myself a point for reading the second Thomas Covenant series, but that's it. I didn't even give myself full points for Dune, as I hadn't finished it. Is that what you're talking about? My wife gave herself points for Xanth and bunch of others (including Dune), just because she'd read at least one story from them at some point...

AbbotOfUnreason said...

Oh, I didn't mean a cheat by readers, I meant a cheat by NPR. If they're going to pick the top 100 books, then they should pick one book for each slot. I don't see why Wheel of Time and Amber are on there as whole series, but Merlin, New Crobuzon (Perdido Street Station), Pern, and Willis' time travelers are not.

I gave myself partial credit for Dune, Amber, and Vorkosigan, and double credit for Covenant.

I loved Ender's Game, but the first follow-on trilogy had a bigger impact on me. I wish it were on here.

David said...

72 points. I didn't count Dune or the Sword of Truth series because I haven't read enough of them. I did count Xanth since I read around 20 of them.

Clearly I need to read some Brandon Sanderson.

Dan Nexon said...

68. I haven't read any "adult" fantasy in 15 years, nor much King, so not a "good" list for me. It feels a bit too much like a mix of "everyone knows this is 'Literary SF/Fantasy'" and "stuff that hit the bestseller lists" for my tastes.

Is this supposed to include YA and kid's SF/Fantasy? There a number of books that clearly qualify as such, by absences (Potter, Narnia) suggest that the category was excluded.

Withywindle said...

46.33, I think. But some are long enough ago it could be a few points lower.