The Internet does love a list. (And who am I kidding, so do we.) But of all the random, clever, or ludicrous lists out there cluttering up cyberspace, we tend to perk up a bit when the list in question involves books we really ought to read. Amazon recently compiled just such a list, their definitive guide to “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime.” Which is, I think you’ll agree, a bit more cheerful of an outlook than the usual variant, “100 Books to Read Before You Die.”
Our beloved science fiction genre doesn’t always get the attention it deserves on these, with many such lists favoring more “respectable” mainstream literature. To that, we say poo-poo. And while our personal list would almost certainly include more SF, Amazon’s 100 does at least have several of the genre’s biggest talents included. Check out the lucky winners below, then stalk off muttering about how they left off your favorite Star Trek paperback.
“1984” by George Orwell
No surprise that Orwell’s paranoid classic made the list, as it’s easily been one of the more influential tomes on the list as a whole. It didn’t just spin a bleak, dystopian yarn; it infected our culture’s nomenclature with phrases like “Big Brother,” “doublethink,” and “thoughtcrime,” words that are cited damn near anytime the abuse of governmental power is the subject of debate. There was a movie version released in, appropriately enough, 1984, as well as an earlier version in 1956. There’s also a new version — a “romantic retelling” starring Kristen Stewart — but the less said about that, the better.
“A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking
Of course, we love science just as much as its fictional offspring here at GFR, so we’re glad to see Prof. Hawking’s seminal tome make the cut. It’s one of those science books that even people who don’t know much about science often seem to have on their bookshelves. (Whether they actually read it is another matter, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.) If you’ve never added it to your collection, it’s a great read and delves into all manner of Big Ideas, from the origins of the universe to its theoretical ends. If nothing else, leave it out on a coffee table and impress your friends. (The ones who can read, anyway.)