I write stories, but I also read them. Surprised? I didn’t think so.
I would like to give you some stories to read that, if you’re anything like me, you might like.
When I first started putting this blog together, it was going to just be singular books, but I realized that that wasn’t going to cut it. I’m already limiting myself to a top 10, many series I love span 5-15 books. This list is in no particular order. It’s far too difficult to quantify how much I like a book more than another book I really like.
Let me stop wasting your time with the prelude and get to the meat of it.
1. The Giver by Lois Lowry
The first book in The Quartet, this was one of the first books I read several times over before I put it down. I’m not sure if I had ever read a dystopian novel before this, but it really stretched me as a person. I read Gathering Blue a few years after encountering The Giver when I was informed a sequel existed. There are two other books that complete the set: Messenger and Son. I haven’t read the last two, but I think I’ll be putting them on my reading list to get to for next year. 90% of the time, I feel like The Giver is my favorite book.
2. Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
I wouldn’t be the first to say that Rowling’s magical world captivated my childhood. If you love fantasy and are under the age of thirty, there is a good chance you couldn’t sleep at night because you just had to finish the book. Harry Potter has become one of the greatest fantasy stories ever written. Even if you’ve seen the movies (which I refused to watch for a long time), you’ll love the stories in their written form.
3. The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind
A quick search on the internet about Goodkind’s books will bring a plethora of hate reviews. You’ll also find a plethora of reviews claiming his books are the best works of fantasy since Tolkien. Confused? Don’t be. Terry Goodkind has his flaws. Some of these flaws are really annoying, but most are minor. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like the author to preach his ideas about humanity and society to you, you’re never going to want to pick up this series (He’s been fairly compared to Ayn Rand). If that doesn’t bother you and you want an exciting story, these books can be a thrill. Though a few of the books could have been combined into one and I don’t completely agree with everything he has to say, his passion for what he does believe motivated me to push myself to do great things.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
In the event that you do live under a rock, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is generally accepted as one of the greatest works of literary fiction. This is one of the few books that I actually loved reading when it was assigned to me in my 8th grade english class. This book covers some of the darker shades of man (no, that was not a pun). I grew up in a family that openly shared the hardships of mid-twentieth century black America and this story was true to the experience.
5. The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
If you like fantasy, you probably have read this series. If you LOVE fantasy, you probably have The Eye of the World virtually memorized, named your firstborn Mat and the last time you swore, it probably came out as “Burn me!” Robert Jordan was a brilliant writer who we lost far too soon. He didn’t finish the series, so Brandon Sanderson was hired to finish the series based on his notes. If you haven’t read this series and you like fantasy (I say ‘like’ because if you haven’t read it you don’t ‘love’ fantasy. I mean come on… this one is seriously a cult classic) then I strongly suggest you see what all the fuss is about. I must warn you: These books are long and towards the middle you may think: “Okay, this had better be good when this all ends.” Robert Jordan joked that he would release it all as a box set with wheels.
6. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Okay, time to make a confession. The Hobbit is the only book I’ve read by Tolkien. Shocked? It gets worse. I didn’t read The Hobbit until this year. I’m pretty sure this is where most people say: “Okay, I’m not reading this guy’s blog anymore… and after he talked about how you should have read Jordan’s work. He hadn’t even read The Hobbit?” It’s true. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard of it. Yes, I knew it was prolific and loved. Yes, I knew that almost every modern author owes Tolkien props for what he did. But, I didn’t read it. I read the first page in a bookstore in high school. I decided I didn’t like it and put it down. Only after I watched the LOTR movies did I decide that I should really read his work. Even after that, I put it off until earlier this year. Sue me. Now that I’ve read it, I’m glad to say that my 30 second analysis of the work when I was younger was far off base. You need to read this if you want to understand the roots of modern fantasy or write fantasy.
7. The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert
You know that a book is heavy when two attempts at a film adaptation have been made and neither were good enough for the fan base. Dune is epic. It hovers somewhere between science fiction and fantasy in the most elegant way. You explore a world that has an amazing ecology with science that mostly still holds up after all these years. Galactic, political intrigue ensues when people fight over the natural resources of one planet. You’ll think of this book every time you season your food.
8. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Asimov is credited as one of the greatest Science Fiction authors of all time. I found this book in my youth on my mother’s bookshelf. Now, my mother isn’t a science fiction reader. To this day, I still have no idea how she acquired the book (and maybe I should have asked before I wrote this post). I can only imagine that it was given to her and she tucked it away because she had no interest. Lucky for me, teenage Jim found that book and he read it, replaced it and daydreamed about some of its themes occasionally. Adult Jim (that’s me) still daydreams about the themes.
9. Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
I’ve listed a lot of books that are pretty classic. Many falling in the pre-21st Century era. Sanderson is one of those authors who really is pulling fantasy into the modern day. He’s powerhousing about 2 books a year and calf deep in his new The Stormlight Archive Series. Before he tackled Robert Jordan’s series, he became known for his Mistborn Trilogy. He really shines bright in these books. He created a rich magic system that is much more involved than the soft wave-a-wand-and-say-a-rhyme magic you may have seen dozens of times. Each one has a slightly different flavor and gives a very well rounded approach to modern epic fantasy.
10. Jedi Apprentice Series by Jude Watson & Dave Wolverton
Star Wars has been a nerdy obsession of mine since childhood. I constantly try to get my wife to love it, but to no avail. She just doesn’t like ‘space stuff.’ I can live with that, because she loves fantasy settings. I started reading this series not long after the infamous Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released. This is one of the series I read in childhood that helped ramp up that obsession. It starts with a young Obi before he leaves the Jedi temple. Wanted to get that inside story on Obi’s origins? This one’s for you.
I really wish I could have put more books in this, but I decided that I would keep it a clean top 10 and spend more time writing instead of listing. I cut out a lot of great books and series that I really love to keep it to 10 books. I’m always looking for great books, so maybe this list will change one day.
What about you?
Are there any books that you think should have made it into my top 10?
What’s your top 10?
Let me know in the comments. Maybe I’ll find my new favorite book!