Book Recommendations
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TitleAuthorGenre
Recommender
SeriesDescription/comment
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SpellsingerAlan Dean FosterFantasyCNYesfirst in the Spellsinger series
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Chasm CityAlastair Reynoldsepic relativistic space opera SFJPMYes...with stigmata!
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Rite of PassageAlexei PanshinYARTSno
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The Joy Luck ClubAmy TanfictionAIMYes
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The Color of Distance Amy ThomsonSFRTSyes
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The Carpet MakersAndreas Eschbachdystopic epic SFJPMa series of chained vignettes that tell a story [pgw: transl. from German]
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DragonflightAnne McCafferyFantasyCNYespart of the Dragonriders of Pern series; sort of a fantasy/sci-fi mix (more sci-fi in the later books)
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The Black Jewels TrilogyAnne BishopDark fantasyAESYesNeat world, engaging characters, interesting (but very binary) take on gender roles. CONTENT WARNING: these are very much adult books touching on dark topics. Rape (male and female), child abuse, emotional abuse, violence. Despite that, they're also heartwarming and often funny. There are a number of spinoff books in the same world, which are not as strong as the original trilogy but are fine lightweight reads.
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Roadside Picnic
Arkady & Boris Strugatsky
SFJPMhunting tech in the extremely dangerous wasteland of a UFO crash
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The Fountains of ParadiseArthur C. ClarkeSFDWROne of the two first books about a space elevator
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Childhood's EndArthur C. ClarkeSFJWL
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2001: A Space OdysseyArthur C. ClarkeSFKGYesand sequels. Fantastic sci fi by one of the masters.
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Soon I Will Be InvincibleAustin Grossmansupervillain humorJPM
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Bridge of BirdsBarry HughartMedieval Chinese FantasyKCRYesCultural appropriation; you won't care
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Rivers of LondonBen AaronovitchUrban fantasyNHYesDetective series about wizards working for the London police. Lots of racial diversity among both major and minor characters. Surprisingly (and entertainingly) informative about police procedure.
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ElantrisBrandon SandersonfantasyArshia SurtiNo
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MistbornBrandon SandersonfantasyAWDYesCN really likes the book, but the rest of the books in the series are a total disappointment. Beware it's not the kind of book where you can only read the first one. It'll eat away at you. KCR liked the rest of the books just fine.
<-Seconded CN's opinion exactly
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WarbreakerBrandon SandersonfantasyMIF
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Way of KingsBrandon Sandersonepic fantasyJPM
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The RithmatistBrandon SandersonFantasy (YA)LAM
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The Night Angel TrilogyBrent Weeksfantasy
Meghana Bhat
Yesfast-paced and action-filled
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The Melancholy of Mechagirl
Catherynne M. Valente
SFF short storriesPJEnoThought-provoking reinterpretations of myths and fairy tales in gorgeous prose
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Summertide (Heritage Universe 1)Charles SheffieldSFDWRYes
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Divergence (Heritage Universe 2)Charles SheffieldSFDWRYes
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Transcendence (Heritage Universe 3)Charles SheffieldSFDWRYes
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Convergence (Heritage Universe 4)Charles SheffieldSFDWRYes
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Resurgence (Heritage Universe 5)Charles SheffieldSFDWRYes
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Atrocity ArchivesCharles StrossLovecraftian SFDWRYes
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Jennifer MorgueCharles StrossLovecraftian SFDWRYes
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Fuller MemorandumCharles StrossLovecraftian SFDWRYes
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Apocalypse CodexCharles StrossLovecraftian SFDWRYes
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Rhesus ChartCharles StrossLovecraftian SFDWRYes
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GlasshouseCharles StrossSF / horrorDWRYes
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The Atrocity ArchivesCharles StrossSFishKCRYesbritish office satire spy novel mathematical magic
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Halting StateCharles Strossnear future crime SFKCR
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WirelessCharles StrossSF short storiesPJEA great place to start with Stross
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Perdido Street StationChina Mievilleweird fantasyJPMYesimagine a much darker Terry Pratchett... with NIGHTMARES
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ForeignerC.J. CherryhSFJPMfocuses on human interactions with aliens
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CyteenC.J. CherryhSFJPM
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This Alien ShoreC.S. FriedmanSF thriller-ishAESNoOne of the most interesting and respectful treatments of mental illness/neurodiversity in anything I've read.
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In Conquest BornC.S. FriedmanSFAESSort ofGalaxy-spanning epic of rival civilizations and generals, with some interesting themes about racism, culture, and the choices societies make. One sequel, but the original novel really stands alone.
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The Doomsday BookConnie Willistime travelAESSort ofTime-travelling historian goes to the Middle Ages to do research, accidentally ends up in the middle of the Black Death. Beautiful, heartwrenching. One of several standalone books (and stories) in this universe by Willis.
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To Say Nothing of the DogConnie WillisScrewball comedy time travelAESSort ofTime travelling historians, victorian manners, a missing Maguffin, and an extra cat. It's a screwball comedy, and it's *very* funny.
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OtherboundCorinne DuyvisFantasyLB[June 2014 debut novel; "for teenagers" she says. --pgw]
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Hyperion/Fall of HyperionDan SimmonsSpace opera with a bit of horrorKCR
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The Long Price QuartetDaniel AbrahamFantasyJPMunique take on magic
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The Last DancerDaniel Keys MoranSFRTSno
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Every DayDavid LevithanFantasyKKBYesA wakes up every day in a different body - someone else's body he takes over for one day. He can't control it, yet is trying to have a consistent life.
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John Dies At The EndDavid WongHorrorLAMA bit absurd too. Fantastic story, not actually that scary, just weird.
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NevernessDavid ZindellSFKCRSort offar future space opera; "Dune on Ice" except not; triggers: neanderthal sex and violence middle part
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyDouglas Adamscomedic SFLAM, CIBYesOne of the classic comedic sci fi works by a real genius! British humor in space.
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The Machine StopsE.M. ForsterJWL
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Range of GhostsElizabeth Bearhistorical fantasyYTYesFantasy based on the traditions and stories of various Middle Eastern and Asian peoples (not Europeans like almost all fantasy). -KKB
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Shoggoths In BloomElizabeth Bearshort story anthologyYT
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War for the OaksEmma BullUrban fantasyKKBNoThe Faerie war can only have any real consequences/deaths if a mortal is on the battlefield. This follows their chosen mortal.
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The Night CircusErin MorgensternModern FantasyJPM
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Villains by NecessityEve ForwardFantasyMHGA group of villains set out on an epic quest to stop the forces of good from destroying the universe. Kind of predictable but fun, it reminds me of the Good the Bad and the Ugly but I seem to be the only one who makes this comparison...
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DuneFrank HerbertSFCNYesSerious work, fascinating political intrigue, beautiful sci fi world created
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DuneFrank Herbertecological SFKCRStandalone book. There are no sequels. Fnord.
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God Emperor of DuneFrank HerbertSFKH
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Soulless Gail CarrigerSteampunk HorrorCIBYes
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Abhorsen (trilogy)Garth NixYA fantasyKCRYespgw: the trilogy begins the Old Kingdom series (Wikipedia)
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1984George Orwelldystopic SFKane HadleyNo
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The Black CompanyGlen CookMilitary FantasyJPMYes
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The Black CompanyGlen CookFantasyMHGYesFirst book in dark fantasy epic told from POV of a mercenary physician who doubles as their historian. First 3 books are great, then it sucks, then they become good again.
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Sweet Silver BluesGlen CookFantasyKKBYesGarrett Files series, a somewhat absurdist take on the fantasy detective, in a world filled with all but the kitchen sink of magic, fantasy creatures, gods, aliens, etc.
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The Last StormlordGlenda Larkeepic fantasyArshia SurtiYesexcellent worldbuilding, very neat magic system; first in Watergivers trilogy
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The WaterbornGreg Keyesepic fantasyKKBYes
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Confessions of an Ugly StepsisterGregory Maguirefantasy?KKBNoOne of the best Cinderella retellings I've found.
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TiganaGuy Gavriel Kayhistorical fantasyJPMfantasy Italian city-states, tragedy, political dealings
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Under HeavenGuy Gavriel Kayhistorical fantasyJPMfantasy china, with political machinations
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Mission of GravityHal Clementhard SFDWRExplorations on a planet with a very variable gravity field due to very fast rotation.
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NeedleHal Clementhard SFDWR
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Through the Eye of a NeedleHal Clementhard SFDWR
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Still RiverHal Clementhard SFDWRA PhD defense at an alien university: several students explore a mystery planetoid to try to test their theses
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The Stainless Steel RatHarry Harrisoncrime SFJPMYescriminal hijinks and cons
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The Call of CthulhuH.P. Lovecrafthorror/fantasyJWL
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The Case of Charles Dexter WardH.P. Lovecrafthorror/fantasyJWL
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WoolHugh Howeypostapocalyptic SFJPMYeslife in a box is better than no life at all
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Player of GamesIain Banksepic SFJPMYesa Culture novel
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Use of WeaponsIain Banksspace opera SFJPMYes
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Player of GamesIain BanksJWL
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Consider PhlebasIain BanksSF/WTFMHGQuoting the venerable minutes of 5-9-14, wherein was provided the best ever description of this book: "Sightseeing, sightseeing, sightseeing, cannibals, sightseeing, MASS DEATH,sightseeing, DEATH, DEATH, BETRAYAL, DEATH." (Warning, the 'cannibals' bit actually made me feel physically sick while reading it. YMMV...I still liked the book.)
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BrasylIan McDonaldnear-future SFJPM
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Gods ThemselvesIsaac AsimovSFDWRAsimov wrote this novel to show he could write aliens, and could write sex. He actually did quite a good job, and the alien society is interesting.
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NemesisIsaac AsimovSFDWRAnother demonstration by Asimov that he could cover topics he usually doesn't.
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The Last QuestionIsaac AsimovSFJWL
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FoundationIsaac AsimovSFKane HadleyYesIf you're into environmental determinism (Also this series as a whole has some really interesting world-building, in my oppinion -LAM) Agreed, but I'm biased towards world building focused stories.
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Kushiel's DartJacqueline CareyEpic sexy fantasy
AES (seconded)
YesAdventure and romance in a fantasy alternate history featuring applied theology and some well-told dark themes. The epic level goes radically up over the series, some people love the minimal-magic first book and not the later ones. Important note: Not even a little bit kidding about the sexy, and this is S&M. Really, *really* well done S&M; the critical importance of consent is a big theme in these books. But if you're squeamish about sex or kink, this isn't the series for you.
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Leviathan WakesJames S.A. Coreyspace opera SFJPM
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Warm Worlds and OtherwiseJames TiptreeSF short storiesPJEno
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The Starry RiftJames TiptreeSFRTSno
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The Eyre AffairJasper FfordeKKBYesThursday Next, the protagonist, works for the literary police, hunting down and stopping attempts to go into famous books and change how they turn out - until she gets sucked into Jane Eyre.
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Shades of GreyJasper Ffordedystpic SFJPMYesin a world where your status is determined by the colors you can see...
only theoretically a series... book 2 has been promised for a long time... -KKB
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The Pushcart WarJean MerrillYAKKBNoRelive your childhood as the pushcarts fight back against the bullies.
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Princess of the Midnight BallJessica Day GeorgeYA fantasyKKBYesWell-done retelling of The Dancing Princesses (which is an unusual choice to retell).
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Storm FrontJim Butcherurban fantasyJPMYesstart of the Dresden Files
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Codex AleraJim ButcherRoman-ish fantasyAESYesGreat characters and an engaging story, despite using a number of fairly standard tropes as key components. If you like epic fantasy and Guile Heroes, this might be for you.
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The Stepsister SchemeJim C. HinesFantasyKKBYesCinderella kicking butt with a sword, backed up by ninja Sleeping Beauty and combat sorceress Snow White, dismantling many fairy tale stereotypes wherever they go.
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