Thursday, 5 March 2009

What do you mean, you haven't read...?

I wandered over to Carl's website, because there's always plenty there to read about, and found myself joining him back in January when he was considering The Guardian's list of 124 scifi and fantasy books everyone should read. Well, you all know I like lists, and I was curious to know how many I had read myself, so although everyone else is long finished thinking about it, I decided to go ahead and play.

I haven't included books I started but didn't finish, which would include Barker's Darkmans, which I couldn't get on with but, like Carl, I have italicised a few books that are on the TBR. There are several authors I have read other books by, but not the one listed here: Auster, Lessing, Moorcock, Vonnegut...The Wasp Factory is the only Iain Banks I haven't read, because I didn't like it (yes, I really did finish Complicity). But 66 out of 124 - well, not too bad, I guess, it's just over half. And one of the books that persuaded me to go ahead with this is Michael Marshall Smith's Only Forward, which I very much want to read again, because I thought it was really original - if you don't know it, give it a try. Similarly, Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker is a book which repays a bit of patience.

There are a couple of real favourites here, one of them being Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, in which the denouement made me laugh for hours afterwards - I still smile when I think of it. I also loved Douglas Coupland's Girlfriend in a Coma, and China Miéville's The Scar (his best, I thought). Mervyn Peake, T.H. White and Sylvia Townsend Warner are all wonderful authors, but where was Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn? Or Garth Nix's Sabriel? Or Pullman, for heaven's sake? Actually, I think that the list isn't bad on scifi, but fantasy is seriously under-represented.

1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
2. Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)
3. Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951)
4. Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
5. Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
6. Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)
7. Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)
8. Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987)
9. Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)
10. Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995)
11. Greg Bear: Darwin’s Radio (1999)
12. Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956)
13. Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992)
14. Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960)
15. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)
16. Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)
17. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960)
18. Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)
19. Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912)
20. William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)
21. Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979)
22. Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)
23. Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957)
24. Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)
25. Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
26. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
27. Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)
28. Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
29. Arthur C Clarke: Childhood’s End (1953)
30. GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
31. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
32. Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)
33. Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
34. Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)
35. Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)
36. Samuel R Delaney: The Einstein Intersection (1967)
37. Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
38. Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)
39. Umberto Eco: Foucault’s Pendulum (1988)
40. Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)
41. John Fowles: The Magus (1966)
42. Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001)
43. Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)
44. William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
45. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)
46. William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
47. Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)
48. M John Harrison: Light (2002)
49. Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
50. Frank Herbert: Dune (1965)
51. Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
52. Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980)
53. James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
54. Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
55. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
56. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)
57. Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
58. Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898)
59. PD James: The Children of Men (1992)
60. Richard Jefferies: After London; Or, Wild England (1885)
61. Gwyneth Jones: Bold as Love (2001)
62. Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
63. Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1966)
64. Stephen King: The Shining (1977)
65. Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953)
66. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Uncle Silas (1864)
67. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris (1961)
68. Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
69. David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
70. Ken MacLeod: The Night Sessions (2008)
71. Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black (2005)
72. Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward (1994)
73. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954)
74. Charles Maturin: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
75. Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy (1992)
76. Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006)
77. Jed Mercurio: Ascent (2007)
78. China Miéville: The Scar (2002)
79. Andrew Miller: Ingenious Pain (1997)
80. Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)
81. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)
82. Michael Moorcock: Mother London (1988)
83. William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890)
84. Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987)
85. Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995)
86. Vladimir Nabokov: Ada or Ardor (1969)
87. Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003)
88. Larry Niven: Ringworld (1970)
89. Jeff Noon: Vurt (1993)
90. Flann O’Brien: The Third Policeman (1967)
91. Ben Okri: The Famished Road (1991)
92. Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
93. Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)
94. Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
95. John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
96. Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
97. François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
98. Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
99. Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000)
100. Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
101. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
102. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1988)
103. Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943)
104. José Saramago: Blindness (1995)
105. Will Self: How the Dead Live (2000)
106. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
107. Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989)
108. Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (1937)
109. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992)
110. Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
111. Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)
112. Rupert Thomson: The Insult (1996)
113. Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court (1889)
114. Kurt Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan (1959)
115. Robert Walser: Institute Benjamenta (1909)
116. Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)
117. Sarah Waters: Affinity (1999)
118. HG Wells: The Time Machine (1895)
119. HG Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898)
120. TH White: The Sword in the Stone (1938)
121. Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (1980-83)
122. John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids (1951)
123. John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)
124. Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)


  1. Audrey Niffenegger's Time Traveller's Wife is brilliant and well worth reading. I would certainly add that to your TBR list.

  2. Sorry, SS, it's one of my blank spots - I read most of it, and I just didn't like it.

  3. There are so many here that I started and just couldn't final score is so pathetic I shan't share it!

  4. Would you believe, I've only read 9...
    I see you've read A Voyage To Arcturus - what did you think? I haven't, though I have got it, and The Haunted Woman by David Lindsay is a real favourite of mine.

  5. Oh, sorry, 10!
    -Alice books (works of genius)
    -The Haunting of Hill House(brilliant, but not as good as We Have Always Lived in the Castle)
    -Lolly Willowes (also brilliant)
    -Time Traveller's Wife (which I did like)
    -Affinity (good... not great)
    -Dr J and Mr H (remember nothing about this...)
    -Memoirs of a Survivor (dragged a bit)
    -Harry Potter (I do love these)
    -The Victorian Chaise-Longue (wonderful)

    So I liked nearly all the ones I've read - I must try more! Might post this list later in the week, if that's ok?

  6. Charlotte, there are several I started and didn't finish, too.

    Simon, please do! I'm ashamed to admit I can't remember anything about Voyage to Arcturus except that I read it, it was so long ago. And I had a binge of reading Lessing, and then decided that was enough so I never got to Memoirs of a Survivor. I've yet to read either of the Jackson books, they are on my need-to-buy list, but I keep finding other things that are even more urgent.

  7. I think 66 books read is fabulous!!! I don't think I was near that. you've read more classic British sci fi than I have, and literary sci fi. I completely agree that fantasy is seriously underpresented on this list as well. Where was Patricia McKillip? Any World Fantasy Award Winners? I've read both Shirley Jackson books and The Haunting of Hill House is a personal favourite of mine. I'm glad you did this list!

  8. Susan, I had forgotten Patricia McKillip, who certainly deserves to be in the list, and then I thought, where is Ray Bradbury?! The Martian Chronicles? Something Wicked This Way Comes? How could they not be there?