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Summer reader poll: 50 fave SFF books 2011-2021

NPR Your 50 Favorite Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books Of The Past Decade. Cover image by Deborah Lee for NPR.
Deborah Lee for NPR

NPR kicked off their summer reader poll results with the question at the heart of science fiction and fantasy: “what if?”

They’ve pulled together a bang up-to-date list of “Your 50 Favorite Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books Of The Past Decade” which reads like a who’s who of my book shelf and bedside reading pile.

I scrolled down the list (which they’ve broken down into great categories) and checked off the fantastic reads I’ve already devoured, hoisted those languishing at the bottom of the reading pile nearer to the top, and added more to my already overwhelming wish list.

I’d love to hear if any of your favourites make an appearance, or if it’s helped rearrange your reading pile – drop me a message on social media or through my website.

Let’s have a look at what caught my eye…

Worlds To Get Lost In

  • Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy: I’ve had this on my radar for so long, I really want to get into it.
  • P Djeli Clark’s Dead Djinn Universe: I loved the fascinating world introduced in the novella, A Dead Djinn in Cairo. An alternative Cairo with otherworldly disturbances to investigate. I can’t wait to revisit it in The Haunting of Tram Car 015 and A Master of Djinn.
  • James S A Corey’s The Expanse series: I’m a big fan of the TV series, which I hear is a good adaptation of the books. I always love to get into the books, but when I’ve got so many others to read already, perhaps I can rely on the TV series?
  • S A Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy: Cairo makes another appearance! These books, starting with The City of Brass have been on my reading pile forever!
  • V E Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy: love these books. Loved following Kell and Lila through the four Londons. We once saw V E Schwab at Oxford’s Pembroke College for the Pembroke Tolkien Lecture 2018 where she spoke about her search for doors (I highly recommended watching the recording!).

Words To Get Lost In

  • Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi: one of my top five favourite books of 2020!
  • Madeline Miller’s Circe: a fixture on my reading pile, must change that…
  • Naomi Novak’s Spinning Silver: considering another of her fairy tale retellings, Uprooted, is also on the list of my top five favourite books of 2020, it’s a safe bet I’d love this one too. Must read…
  • Sofia Samatar’s Olondria series: will I ever get to read everything on my reading pile?

Will Take You On A Journey

  • Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series: I’ve read the first book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, but there’s another three out!
  • Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti series: #wanttoread.
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time duology: I was blown away by the first in the series, what a world! Definitely will tackle the second some day soon.
  • Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series: another fixture on my reading pile. Gorgeous covers too.
  • Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds: #wanttoread.

Will Mess With Your Head

  • Tamsyn Muir’s The Locked Tomb series: “lesbian necromancers in space”, what more do you need to know? The first book, Gideon the Ninth, has been on my radar for ages.
  • Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past series: loved the first book, The Three-Body Problem, and now need to get on to the rest…
  • Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series: another eye-catching cover that I can never scroll past. I will read Ninefox Gambit one day, I hope!

Will Mess With Your Heart

  • N K Jemisin’s The Broken Earth series: I mean, you can hardly ignore a trilogy that wins the Hugo Award for Best Novel in three consecutive years, can you? The first book, The Fifth Season, was another of my top five favourite books of 2020 and I blogged about it here. I can’t wait to get into the next book.
  • Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven: a story of surviving after a pandemic. NPR notes the author advised people not to read this in the midst of our current pandemic, but the article’s author begs to disagree. I read and loved this book back in 2018, but I don’t know how the current situation would affect my feelings about it?
  • Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s This Is How You Lose the Time War: #wanttoread.
  • R F Kuang’s The Poppy War trilogy: also already on the pile! So many books, so little time.

Will Make You Feel Good

  • Martha Wells’ Murderbot series: I adore these books. TLDR: Robot hacks itself and watches soap operas, but the inconvenient humans keep endangering themselves. It’s the most heartwarming, humane, and hilarious treatment of artificial intelligence I have come across. I blogged about them here.
  • Andy Weir’s The Martian: loved the book, the audiobook, and the film.
  • Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown: another firm fixture on my reading pile! This list bringing it back to my attention might kick me to crack it open soon…

What a stacked list, right? I’d love to hear if any of your favourites make an appearance, or if it’s helped rearrange your reading pile – drop me a message on social media or through my website.

And you can find the list in all its glory with book covers, buy links, brief descriptions from the article’s author, and some information on their decision-making process: “Your 50 Favorite Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books Of The Past Decade

Happy reading folks!

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