Wednesday, May 4, 2016

on my bookshelf: top 10 sci fi novels

SciFi Collage

hopefully this is not the most boring blog post ever, but being a monstrous book lover, i have been wanting to do some top 10 lists for awhile now. my first top 10 list is for science fiction, a genre near and dear to my heart ever since i discovered it on the overflowing bookshelves at my grandparents' house in fort davis, texas, all those years ago. my grandparents traveled and lived all over the world, and when my grandfather retired, they decided to build a house in fort davis, tx of all places. i say of all places because it is kind of out in the middle of nowhere texas. it is very dry, very "mountainous" (no one outside texas would call them mountains but we persist), very sparsely populated, and very beautiful. i will always have the best memories of their house there, where i would often get out of all the chores my cousins and our parents were being put to because i was holed up somewhere voraciously reading through my grandparents' amazing library. clearly a love for books is in the genes. i feel like i've probably told this story before? well anyways, that's where i first discovered science fiction, even though most of these titles i've read rather recently.

these top 10 are listed in order of my reading of them, because i don't really think i could say which is number 1 (okay, maybe red rising) or number 10. in case you are wondering, i am including dystopian (#s 5, 6, 7) and post-apocalyptic (#s 4, 8, 10) titles in here, because those actually do fall into the genre of science fiction, which at its core is fiction that is set in a world like our own, but with important scientific or technological differences. in other words, i like to think, it is what is possible, versus fantasy which deals with a world totally unlike—and unlikely ever to become—our own. science fiction is about what our future could be. usually, as in the case of dystopian or post-apocalyptic scenarios, it is what we hope will not—but fear will?— happen.

a final note about these books: they are mostly all heavy on the heavy stuff and some are pretty violent too, with the exception of the martian. that one is almost solely pure fun. if you saw the movie first, i pity you. so! without further ado:

1. the giver 
every grade school child was probably forced to read this for school, as i was. (was i?? i actually can't remember) and while i usually hated all those school-assigned readings, this one was amazing. it definitely introduced me to the world of what if in a powerful way. but if you're an adult reading this, i can't vouch for this book from an adult's point of view, not having read it in a long time. it is definitely youth/ya reading level.

2. ender's game
this is what ya science fiction should be: psychological, cunning, deeply immersive, extremely well-thought-out, beautifully written. it (and author orson scott card) is every bit deserving of all the awards won. i'm a die-hard believer that every book is better than its movie. this one is no exception.

3. the time traveler's wife
after reading this book i actually looked up the author to see what else she'd written (nothing at the time). i think this was maybe the first book i ever did that for, which maybe is only because i read it as an adult and could think that way. especially what with this new invention of the internet. ;) suffice it to say that this story in someone else's hands may not have been the delicate, poetic masterpiece that it is. i know this because when i was trying to describe the story to my new husband at the time, i realized how uninteresting and lame i was making it sound, compared to what i knew it was...breathtaking.

4. the road
did i read this during grad school? or before? i can't remember! but i think it was during grad school for an assignment. it. was. in.credible. raw. rough. beautiful. crystalline. this is one of those post-apocalyptic titles that will make you squeamish at times. but the writing! i'm such a sucker for good writing.

5. never let me go
another one that stands on the merit of its writing alone, because the subject is just so hard. and trust me, there have been many times in my life i could not handle this kind of drama, even in fiction form. but i read it for school, and i'm glad i did.

6. the handmaid's tale 
so margaret atwood is a genius. duh. you all knew that. but i just thought i would state the obvious anyways. if however you have not discovered margaret atwood yet, Read. This. Book. she is powerful.

7. red rising
this is one of my newest reads, and it has two sequels which i've read as well. i don't know what it is exactly about this book (which is far better than its sequels in my opinion), but i found it completely entrancing. i think mainly it's because unlike so many books, you do not ever know what's going to happen next. the author is so, so, so good at making sure you know that the main character knows, but he doesn't ever tell the reader (and you can't really guess! bonus!) what is about to happen. sheer genius in my book. so this one is like a 9 on the violence rating for me (i don't dig much violence), which was hard, but the genius of the story sold me.

8. ready player one
okay i have a confession. i'm not sure if this title will make it into this list five years from now. it's not the most amazing writing ever. and it's light in the sense that it's (to me at least) purely pleasure reading. there isn't really some deeper psychological light to it. but! it was such a fun read, and it's a new, not-over-done (yet) storyline, that it makes the cut for now. if you like the 80s, easy reading, and fun reading, this book is your next beach read.

9. the martian
oh my goodness this book was good! it was so different too. you'll understand when you read it, but right away i could kind of tell that it was written by someone who isn't concerned about traditional story telling. not a writer, per se. but very much a scientist. which somehow, was magic. almost like life of pi? but without the psychological bits. anyways, i'm rambling. but if you haven't seen the movie (or even if you have!) read this book! you will like it!

10. station eleven
this book was a trip and i mean that only in a good way. it took me forever to really get into the pace, and i couldn't quite tell where it was going. which is kind of nice sometimes. there's a build up. an attention to slowing down. this almost, almost feels to me like the backstory for another story. like it wasn't taking the stage in its own story. i don't think i'm making sense. basically i can imagine a best-selling series, and then i can imagine this being a companion story written after it, telling some other parts of the main story. that's not super flattering, i realize. because it's kind of like saying that this didn't really wow me...which is somewhat true. the story isn't as intense and exciting as it could be. and yet, it's still fantastic storytelling, so...that's my wonderful endorsement. i'm done. ;)

in closing, i would just like to point out that 4 out of these 10 authors are women! almost half! yay! that's somewhat rare in top 10 book lists. heck, in any writing lists. so, hooray for that.

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