Wastrel

Literature recommendation threads (links)

8 posts in this topic

Mod note:

In order to keep the top of Literature clean, here are the links all in one place. Please direct your recommendations (no discussion) to one of these threads. Looking for a book to read? Look no further.

Fantasy and Science Fiction Series

Fantasy and Science Fiction Standalone Books

Fantasy and Science Fiction Obscure Works

Non-Modern Fantastical Literature

Other literature (literary fiction, non-fic, etc.)

Below are posts from the thread "Westeros Fantasy and Science Fiction Book List". This was a poll done in 2010 of posters in this forum and a list compiled from there. It is unranked, but straddles many people's recommendation lists.

-Kat

Original post below:

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I've already posted this over in the original thread, but perhaps a new thread/post for stickying would be appropriate.

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The Main List:

The Affirmation – Christopher Priest
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon
The Anubis Gates – Tim Powers
The Autumn of the Patriarch – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Black Company – Glen Cooke
Blindness – Jose Saramago
The Book of the New Sun – Gene Wolfe
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Cat's Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
Childhood's End – Arthur C. Clarke
China Mountain Zhang – Maureen McHugh
The Chronicles of Amber – Roger Zelazny
The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) – Stephen Donaldson
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
The H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus – H.P. Lovecraft
The Dark Tower – Stephen King
Discworld – Terry Pratchett* [see Note]
The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
Doomsday Book – Connie Willis
Downbelow Station – C.J. Cherryh
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Dune – Frank Herbert
The Dying Earth – Jack Vance
The Dying of the Light – George R.R. Martin
The Earthsea Trilogy – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Empire Trilogy – Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts
Ender's Quartet – Orson Scott Card
The Farseer Trilogy – Robin Hobb
The Fencer Trilogy – K.J. Parker
Fevre Dream – George R.R. Martin
Fictions – Jorge Luis Borges
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
The Foundation Trilogy – Isaac Asimov
The Gap Series – Stephen Donaldson
Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
The Gormenghast Trilogy – Mervyn Peake
The Gospel According to Jesus Christ - Jose Saramago
A Handmaid's Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
Hellblazer – Garth Ennis
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five Parts – Douglas Adams
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
Hyperion – Dan Simmons
I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
The Illiad - Homer
Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
The Iron Dragon's Daughter – Michael Swanwick
The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Lions of Al-Rassan – Guy Gavriel Kay
Little, Big – John Crowley
The Liveship Traders – Robin Hobb
Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
Lucifer's Hammer – David Niven and Jerry Pournelle
The Lyonesse Trilogy– Jack Vance
The Glass Bead Game – Hermann Hesse
The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick
The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn – Tad Williams
Midnight's Children – Salman Rushdie
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein
Le Morte D'Arthur – Thomas Mallory
Mythago Wood – Robert Holdstock
Neuromancer – William Gibson
The Night’s Dawn Trilogy – Peter F. Hamilton
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
Odyssey - Homer
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Only Forward – Michael Marshall Smith
Otherland – Tad Williams
Permutation City – Greg Egan
Planet of Adventure – Jack Vance
The Prestige – Christopher Priest
Replay – Ken Grimwood
The Riddle-Master Trilogy – Patricia A. McKillip
Sandman – Neil Gaiman
The Sarantine Mosaic – Guy Gavriel Kay
Shardik – Richard Adams
The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
Solaris – Stanislaw Lem
The Soldier Trilogy (Soldier of the Mist, Soldier of Arete, and Soldier of Sidon)– Gene Wolfe
A Song of Ice and Fire – George R.R. Martin
The Stand – Stephen King
The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester
Starship Troopers – Robert A. Heinlein
Tigana – Guy Gavriel Kay
The Tooth Fairy – Graham Joyce
Transmetropolitan – Warren Ellis
Use of Weapons – Iain M. Banks
The Warlord Trilogy – Bernard Cornwell
Watchmen – Alan Moore
Watership Down – Richard Adams
We – Yevgeny Zamyatin
The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan

Honourable Mentions: Salem’s Lot (Stephen King), Till We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis), The Once and Future King (T.H. White), The Elric Series (Michael Moorcock), A Fire Upon The Deep (Vernor Vinge), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury), The Vorkosigan Saga (Lois McMaster Bujold), The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), Gravity’s Rainbow (Thomas Pynchon), and The Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri).


*Nota Bene: The Discworld series is extremely long, and variable in style and quality, with litte connexion between many of the novels, and so would probably have better been considered as separate novels. However, the voting was overwhelmingly for it as a series. Furthermore, the most popular individual Discworld book, Night Watch, is generally considered one of the least independent books, and one of the least appropriate for beginners. The second-most mentioned book, Small Gods, is a standalone novel with few connexions to any other novels in the series, and is therefore probably a better starting point for newcomers; however, I didn’t feel it would be legitimate to promote it over Night Watch in this vote (it is not my place to make these decisions), and so rather than list the less accessible book, I acquiesced to the popular voting pattern and listed the entire series, with the addition of this explanatory note.

Edited by Kat
Added new links

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Ten Works from the 21st Century:

Acts of Caine – Matthew Stover

Black Man – Richard Morgan

The First Law Trilogy – Joe Abercrombie

The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

The Long Price Quartet – Daniel Abraham

The Malazan Book of the Fallen – Steven Erikson

The Orphan’s Tales – Cathrynne M. Valente

Prince of Nothing – R. Scott Bakker

The Scar – China Mièville

Stories of Your Life and Others – Ted Chiang

Honourable Mentions: The Road (Cormac McCarthy), American Gods (Neil Gaiman), City of Saints and Madmen (Jeff Vandermeer), Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell), Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (Susanna Clarke), The Wizard Knight (Gene Wolfe), Chasm City (Alastair Reynolds), Anathem (Neal Stephenson).

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I won't bore you with the details of the mythology, but to say that all elections should be considered in the context of their electoral systems, and their electoral systems should be considered in the context of their objectives and constraints.

To that end, if anybody wants to read about what the poll tried to achieve, how it tried to achieve it, and what that meant it was unable to achieve, I've explained the methodology, and answered some potential questions about it, on my blog, with the posts indexed HERE.

Headline Summary: this list should not be read as a pure "best of" list - a popular vote can't achieve that. There are books on the list that aren't that good, and books that are very good. But every book on the list is likely to be worth reading... for some or other reader; and every reader (at least, every reader interested in the genre) should find something here they find worth reading. It's not a statement of what the board can completely AGREE is worth listing (that would be a very short list); it seeks to compromise between consensus agreement and an eclectic expression of as many tastes as possible. Perhaps it should be seen as a statement: "this is what we like" - and that doesn't entail that we all like all of it.

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Is it possible (and do you have the time) to present the list in a ranked format from 1 - 100?

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Short answer no with an if, long answer yes with a but.

I could, but there would be some issues with it. First, the books have got to the list in various ways (first slots, variously qualified additional slots, passed-on slots, and placement on the Greats List). Second, the votes were aggregated by author. So what's the ranking going to be based on? Total votes for that author? Total votes for that book? Total votes for the most popular book by that author? Is there a bonus for Greats votes? Is there a penalty for being the second or third listed book by a given author?

I could answer these questions, but the answers would be arbitrary - all electoral systems are arbitrary, and this would just be yet another level of arbitration.

But, more importantly, I won't do that, because that contravenes the purpose of the list as I see it. I repeat again: this isn't a list of the 101 best books ever, in order. It didn't set out to be that. It's merely an attempt, perhaps, at the best list of 101 books. A popular poll like this one simply CANNOT produce a ranked list of the greatest books, because of the massive disparities between what different voters have read (if voters are not ranking the same candidates, their rankings are not commensurable). For that, you need to look at the unified voice of an expert, or at most the aggregate voices of a group of experts (an interesting project for another time). This sort of popular vote cannot even find "the most popular" candidate, because it cannot distinguish between a book not being voted for because it is disliked, a book not being voted for because it is not known, and a book not being voted for because it is liked but ranked outside that voter's top twenty. Not to mention the fact that there is no such thing as "the" most popular - different electoral systems will give you different answers.

If you DID really want a ranked list of the most popular books, the basis of such a poll would have to be getting people to share their opinion on every single book in an exhaustive list of books - it's the only way to avoid the ambiguities mentioned above. The mechanics would be very arbitrary, of course, but such a project would be feasible.

However, even if that had interested me, it wouldn't have been possible in this case - because I didn't HAVE an exhaustive list of candidate books, and because the number of voters would certainly have been smaller if there was a compulsory 600-book ballot sheet, and also because the amount of work would have been immense. Feel free to try!

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So, I can't give you a meaningful ranked list. No poll of this sort possibly can. I could give you a ranked list anyway, and it would still be interesting for some purposes, but it wouldn't really be a ranking OF anything. In light of this, I think the only responsible thing to do is to refuse to give something that the methodology cannot support.

That said, obviously Martin and Tolkien were in a level of their own. Tolkien narrowly but comfortably beat Martin, and The Lord of the Rings beat The Silmarillion, but A Song of Ice and Fire beat both (but didn't beat their combined total).

R. Scott Bakker and Gene Wolfe formed a second tier by themselves.

Herbert, Mieville, Kay, Simmons and Orwell then followed in their own tier, with Card rounding out the top ten.

That's by "points" (which take into account which tier they were in on the ballot). In terms of overall how-often-were-they-mentioned votes, the top ten were Tolkien, Martin, Mieville, Wolfe, Bakker, Herbert, Abercrombie, Kay, Gaiman and Hobb.

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I don't need or even care if we get a list by number of votes, but a 'tiered' list would be nice.

We voted in tiers so it would be nice to see which are the top 20%, then the next 40%, and the final 40%.

And thanks for all the time and effort you've put into this Wastrel. It's definitely appreciated :thumbsup:

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How would voting in tiers equate to results in tiers? In STV, for instance, people give first, second and so forth preferences - but they don't elect a "first choice MP", "second choice MP" and so forth. All the people elected are equal...

I could make a rough tiering, but I don't see the point. Remember, the more detail you want, the more arbitrary that detail is. For instance, I'm happy with my system of point allocation when it comes to selecting a list of books, but I'd be less happy with it if it came to any sort of ranking or tiering - and small changes in it could produce large changes in outcome. Is Orwell 7th - or 26th? Is Bulgakov 42nd - or 98th? It all depends on the details of the scoring system. And, again, do I tier the books or the authors? Tiering the books, when I've said that all votes for an author count for them, is rather cheating the voters who ahve taken me at that word and voted for a lesser-known book by a top author.

This isn't all the books that were listed. There were something like 650 of those, and there's only about 1/6th of them here. And if it looks like an overview of what was voted for the most... well, that tends to be how elections work, yes. I can't wave a magic wand and pluck out some fascinating discovery that goes beyond the votes.

That said, I'll think about how feasible/honest a tiering could be, given the discontent.

Also, if people have specific questions about how authors did, I don't mind answering those. I've already given you the top ten - and as you go down the list, the difference between the different authors get smaller and less meaningful.

EDIT: Also, you seem to suggest that this is only how often they've been listed - whereas in fact, as the methodology explains, it also matters HOW they are listed - top-tier votes carry more weight than bottom-tier votes.

Edited by Wastrel

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In order to keep the top of Literature clean, here are the links all in one place. Please direct your recommendations to one of these threads. Looking for a book to read? Look no further.



Fantasy and Science Fiction Series



Fantasy and Science Fiction Standalone Books



Fantasy and Science Fiction Obscure Works



Other literature (literary fiction, non-fic, etc.)




I am also moving posts from the thread "Westeros Fantasy and Science Fiction Book List" here. This was a poll done in 2010 of posters in this forum and a list compiled from there. It is unranked, but straddles many people's recommendation lists.






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