Amazon posted a list titled “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime”.
I know why people put lists out there. I often find them lazy attempts to fill blog space that would otherwise have nothing to say, but from time to time the infamous ‘they’ find one that resonates with me – and that’s why they do it. They want you to react. The more you react the more people you know go there to see what all the hubbub is about (and the more traffic they get the better the odds of making money).
I couldn’t resist this one. I went there and checked the list out.
I can certainly say I hope when the list is complete you’re not expected to be done with your lifetime. The editors based these choices on personal favorites, vision, character creation and other traits. I looked over the list and broke it down because I really wanted to know. Here’s how the numbers went:
I’ve read 50 of the list. Going back to my fear, that would make me halfway to ‘finished’ and I don’t think I feel good about that. I was a little surprised it was that many, but also a little surprised it wasn’t more. Of the 50 I’ve read there were only 3 that I really hated. I can’t say they shouldn’t be on the list, just that I hated them. That’s around 6% that just didn’t work for me and that’s not bad. The rest were stories I was OK with, liked or really loved.
I expected to see The Hobbit on there, and it was. I didn’t see anything by Morcock (Elric stuff) and was surprised by that. I wouldn’t have liked it particularly, but I expected it. I saw the Thomas Covenant stuff on there and I despised that first book. Still do, but I understand why it’s on the list. It was nice to see such a variety of good stuff.
Of the other half – I’d already had 14 of those titles on my “to read” list. I added 17 more based on this list. That puts me at 31 ‘to read” and that will be 81 of the 100. Not shabby. What about the rest?
In among those titles were a dozen where I’ve seen the movie adaptation. There’s a fair argument to be made that I should read those books – and I might. The problem is that while I know intellectually the books are likely far better than the film adaptations, I can’t bring myself to put those up on the list of “to read” until I’ve plowed through all the rest of the ones that I don’t know anything about yet. Should I rush to read Dune? I’ve seen a movie version and part of a television version and I know what those showed me. Do I want to dive into that series? I’m not sure. I’ve liked the other stuff by Herbert that I’ve read (yes, there are other things) but I’m not rushing. Will I ever get there? Maybe.
If you’re like a lot of my friends, you’re thinking to yourself – that still only gets us to 93. What about the other seven books?
OH – those seven. Those are the books that I’m just not interested in. There are various reasons for this and I won’t go into them all but I will give you an example or two. Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood – not interested. She’s had negative things to say about science fiction as a genre in the past and it turned me off to her and her work. Not going there – don’t care how good you think it is. Game of Thrones books – not interested. Yes I tried them. Yes I tried the show too. Martin chucks a child out of a tower in the first chapter. Yeah, I know he lives. Those people suck and I don’t want to read about them. I like people I can root for and I haven’t found a character in there I like. I know how stupid popular it all is. Still not going there. Are there other things by Martin I would read? Maybe. I’ve heard his new book is set in the same world but earlier. I’ve also heard that his Wild Cards stuff is really good.
There is it – the full 100. You should go and check out the list. I’d like to hear where you land in the count and if you shared a similar breakdown.
OH – and I still recommend this one as a fantastic start to a great series: