Top Ten Unread SF/F Classics

Over the last three years, I’ve developed a strong love for SF/F, especially fantasy. Having said that, there is a huge gap in my reading. There are very few SF/F classics that I’ve read, and I probably ought to read more of them. They scare me, though, and so these ten remain on my top ten “I should read them but haven’t” list.

dune1. Dune by Frank Herbert – Honestly, I really doubt I will like this book. It just doesn’t sound like my kind of book, and people who know my tastes say they don’t think I will like it. It’s so influential, though, and I feel like I should read it.

2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – As I’ve said in the past, I’ve avoided this one because I don’t like the author. But I have a feeling I’ll like the book, whenever I do finally cave to the pressure to read it.

3. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin – Actually, anything by this author will do. She intimidates me. Though recently I heard more about The Left Hand of Darkness, and considering I’m specifically looking for non-binary fiction, I might just have to get to that one sooner rather than later.

colour4. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett – My first experience with Pratchett was  children’s book and way too young for me. I should put aside that first impression and try to get into Discworld.

5. The Hobbit (+) by JRR Tolkien – Like Dune, all of Tolkien’s books have been so influential and are ones I should read, though I doubt I will enjoy them. Of all the books on this list, this is (or, these are) the ones I feel most guilty about skipping.

6. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – Again, any Asimov will do. But he intimidates the snot out of me.

7. the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan – Technically, I’ve read the first of the series. And didn’t get much out of it. Still, I want to keep going with it, both because it’s so influential, and because Brandon Sanderson wrote the last few books, and I adore Sanderson…

neverwhere8. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – I tried reading this once, and quit reading on the first (vomit-related) scene. Books that open with that kind of scene are automatically no-nos for me. But I’ve heard it’s really good, and the rest of the book doesn’t follow on the same Manda-phobia paths, so I really ought to suck it up and try again.

9. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – I imagine this would be a love-or-hate kind of book for me. And honestly, I’m a little worried about ending up on the hate-side. So I’ve avoided it thus far.

10. anything by China Mieville – Another author that intimidates me so much. But I ought to get over it and read him anyway.

What do y’all think? Any of these I ought not to be afraid of? Or biased against?


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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11 Responses to Top Ten Unread SF/F Classics

  1. Word Lily says:

    I held off on Ender’s Game for years and years, but when I finally read it, I loved it. I’ve since read the sequel, and it’s excellent, too. I doubt I’ll continue with the series, though.

    Tolkien isn’t intimidating. I’m wondering if maybe you’d like LoTR better than The Hobbit? The Hobbit is a children’s book, whereas LoTR is for an older audience.

    I’m reading Outlander now, liking it so far, but not very far in. We’ll see.

    I’ve no interest in Dune. Not sure why.

    Pratchett and Le Guin and Jordan and Gaiman (other than Stardust) … I should probably read something of theirs, too.

    I’m iffy on if I even want to read Asimov.


    • Amanda says:

      I’ve heard that LoTR is better and makes more sense if you read the Hobbit first. Am I wrong on that then? I do think I’d like LoTR better.

      I don’t dislike Tolkien really (to answer your other comment in the same comment). I’ve got nothing against the guy personally. His books just really scare me. I didn’t grow up reading fantasy, and even now that I love fantasy, I still tend to stay away from books that are classic “high” fantasy, the sorts with creatures and worlds completely different from the one I know. The ones I like best have some sort of tie or similarity. I know Tolkien did some major world-building and I worry that it won’t be accessible enough for me. Then again, a LOT of the books I used to think would be inaccessible didn’t end up being so, and I might have the same experience with Tolkien once I can get over my fear!


  2. Word Lily says:

    Oh, and: Why don’t you tink you’ll like Tolkien?


  3. Shaina says:

    Agreed on many of these for the intimidation factor.

    I finally finished up The Hobbit + LOTR trilogy this year and am mostly glad to have read them. I kept going from “Wow, this is some really nice prose” to “God, this prose is dry.” I think I eventually settled on him being a really great writer who likes to get way too caught up in the nitty-gritty of his world.

    Wheel of Time is another series I’ve considered, but it seems like a massive time commitment. I end up thinking about all the other books I could read in that amount of time…


    • Amanda says:

      I don’t mind world-building, but I think I said in a review recently (Firstborn?) that I don’t like it to take center stage, and I wonder if that’s what Tolkien has done. It’s a delicate balance, and some readers prefer more world-stuff while others prefer less.

      My issue with WoT is that I didn’t particularly enjoy the first book. That might have been the audio narrator, but I also just got the impression that it’s one of those “man’s man fantasy” sorts of books. I didn’t like any of the characters and felt they were far more archetyped than real (and thus, relatable).


  4. Lindsay says:

    Outlander was fantastic! So much atmosphere and history. And of course the time travel! Why do you think you’ll dislike it? I hope you read it and love it. 🙂

    I read Ender’s Game a couple years ago on a friend’s recommendation and had no clue what I was in for. I’ve never read any other books by Orson Scott Card, but I did enjoy Ender.


    • Amanda says:

      It’s the history that worries me! I’m not really a huge fan of historical fiction, probably because I grew up on a diet of classics and too often historical writers try (and fail) for a prose styling that “sounds” classic. I recently got into the Deborah Harkness series that also involves history and time travel. I enjoyed the first book of the series well enough (no time travel), though it felt redundant in places and I took some issues with it. Then I tried to read the second book, in which they time travel back to the 1500s (I think – can’t remember exactly), and I just couldn’t continue. I like reading about new worlds, not old ones, and so I tend to find historical fiction boring unless it introduces some element about the world itself that’s actually different from reality (historical magic Venice, or something). When I find it boring, and then the style of writing hits that particular pet peeve, I tend to clock out. I’ve heard very mixed reviews on Outlander – some people saying they adore it, others saying it’s a complete waste of time. It seems to be very polarizing. Which makes me worry! I’m sure I’ll try it at some point – it at least doesn’t scare me – but I’m not sure I’ll get through it.


  5. Trisha says:

    Ender’s Game is a bane of my reading existence. It is such a great book, but Card is a total shitbag. The Hobbit and the rest are excellent. I seriously love them.


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