I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy when I was in middle school and high school, but veered away from it sometime after college. Eventually, I made my way back, and take time to read a science fiction book every once in a while.
The books that are on this list are either books that I have read or books that have been recommended to me by people that know me and that I trust to give recommendations, and which I fully intend to read eventually. Before you even mention it, I know I left one or two (or more) of your favorites off. Please feel free to add a comment telling me what they are.
These are not in any particular order, and as a result, there may be duplicates.
- Edwin A. Abbott – Flatland
- Robert Louis Stevenson – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- Edward Bellamy – Looking Backward
- H.G. Wells – The Invisible Man
- Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
If you have only ever seen the movies (or eaten the cereal), then you owe it to yourself to read the original book, which is much more complex and satisfying than any of the movies.
- George R. Stewart – Earth Abides
- John Wyndham – The Chrysalids
This is still one of my favorite books. I’m itching to re-read it, just writing about it.
- Nevil Shute – On the Beach
We had to read this during British Lit in high school, and the images (especially toward the end) still haunt me.
- Pat Frank – Alas, Babylon
- Walter M. Miller, Jr. – A Canticle for Leibowitz
- David Brin – The Postman
I haven’t read this yet, but supposedly it’s much better than the movie.
- Ursula K. LeGuin – The Lathe of Heaven
- H.G. Wells – The Time Machine
This is one of the best sci-fi books ever, and a great introduction to the genre by a master.
- Madeleine L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time (this is the first book in the Time Quartet, which is now the Time Quintet)
- Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale
- Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse 5
Again, one of the best and a good introduction to science fiction.
- Daniel Keyes – Flowers for Algernon
- Anthony Burgess – A Clockwork Orange
This can be a difficult one because of the language, but try to find an online glossary or an edition with a glossary, and the book is very rewarding.
- Frank Herbert – Dune (and everything else in that series)
- Isaac Asimov – Foundation (and the rest of the series)
- George Orwell – 1984
- Robert A. Heinlein – Stranger in a Strange Land
- Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451
This book is a bit dated because it’s taught in nearly every high school in the United States, and so teenages don’t have a chance to really enjoy it. C’mon, folks—lots of the other books on this list could be taught in high school English classes.
- Aldous Huxley – Brave New World
- H. G. Wells – The War of the Worlds
- H. G. Wells – The Island of Dr. Moreau
- Stanislaw Lem – Solaris
- Kurt Vonnegut – Cat’s Cradle
- John Wyndham – The Day of the Triffids
- Jules Verne – Journey to the Center of the Earth
- A.E. van Vogt – Slan
- Robert A. Heinlein – Citizen of the Galaxy
- Robert A. Heinlein – Have Space Suit-Will Travel
- Kurt Vonnegut – The Sirens of Titan
- Arthur Conan Doyle – The Lost World
- Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and the rest of that series)
- Brian Aldis – the Helliconia trilogy
- Isaac Asimov – I, Robot
- Karel Capek – R.U.R.
- J. G. Ballard – The Drowned World
- Arthur C. Clarke – Childhood’s End
- Neil Gaiman – American Gods
- William Gibson – Neuromancer
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Herland
This is really a forgotten classic of science fiction, and one of the first feminist takes on science fiction, to boot.
- Fritz Leiber – Our Lady of Darkness
- Joanna Russ – The Female Man
- H. G. Wells – The First Men in the Moon
- John Wyndham – The Midwich Cuckoos
This book later became the basis for the movie Village of the Damned
- Eugene Zamiatin (also spelled as Yevgeny Zamyatin) – We
- Philip K. Dick – The Man in the High Castle
- John W. Campbell – “Who Goes There”
This is only a short story, but it’s a good one, and the basis for the film The Thing. You can read the full text here.
- Carol Emschwiller – The Secret City
- Jules Verne – From the Earth to the Moon
- Richard Matheson – I Am Legend
- Olaf Stapledon – Last and First Men
- Chester Anderson – The Butterfly Kid
- Roger Zelazny – Creatures of Light and Darkness
- Alexander Key – Escape to Witch Mountain
- John Wyndham – The Kraken Wakes
- Harry Harrison – Make Room! Make Room!
The basis for the movie Soylent Green.
- Walter Tevis – The Man Who Fell to Earth
- David Gerrold – The Man Who Folded Himself
- Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go
- Olaf Stapledon – Odd John
- Philip K. Dick – A Scanner Darkly
- H.G. Wells – The Shape of Things to Come
- Alfred Bester – The Stars My Destination
- Kurt Vonnegut – Player Piano
- Philip K. Dick – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
This book was translated onto screen as Blade Runner