Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read

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

When it comes to unique books I’m not sure I have read very many that really qualify as truly unique because most of what I read is rather mainstream. However, there are a few books despite that which I think are pretty unique for various reasons. I’m not sure if I can come up with a full list of ten books, but I’ll try my best.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
What makes Ancillary Justice so unique is how the author bends gender with everyone on the page being referred to with a feminine pronoun. It makes for an incredibly unique reading experience and to be honest, it makes things a little bit confusing for the first piece of the novel. You really have to force your brain to work a different way in order to make sense of the characters and their actions.

World War Z by Max Brooks
I loved this book because of its unique format. The choice to use imagined interviews with key players to create a chronicle of the events surrounding a zombie apocalypse was a fantastic storytelling device. I was glued to this book the entire time I was reading it because the interviews felt so real despite the fact that I knew they were fictional.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I’m sure there have been other books that tried the approach of featuring a player inside of a massive online game, but if I ever find another one worth reading I’ll hold it up in comparison to Ready Player One every time. Ernest Cline did a great job creating a virtual world for his characters to run around in and there was something exciting about having a fictional world inside of another fictional world be the main playground for the story to take place within.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
There is a lot of post-apocalyptic YA fiction out there in the world to consume, but very little of it is so unique that it really grabs your attention. So many of those stories follow a very limited number of tropes, but The Maze Runner does a lot of things very differently and I’m very excited to see how the general public accepts the movie version later this year because I think it’s exactly the unique YA infusion the genre needs.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Atwood
Most people might not thing Gone with the Wind is all that unique, but it was pretty unique for me to decide to read it. My wife loves the book and I’d never read it before so I took the plunge to see what it was all about. I had a very mistaken understanding of what the line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was in reference to, so when I finished the book in the early morning hours one day I was very upset. I can usually accept just about anything in a book without getting angry, but this one got me.

Kraken by China Mieville
I’m not sure Kraken is unique in comparison to other books of its kind, but it was certainly unique to me when I read it. I had never read a book quite like Kraken before and it took a lot of brainpower for me to dive into that kind of writing style. I thought it was a great book and I’d like to read more of the author’s work someday.

The God Engines by John Scalzi
This is actually a novella, but I still think it’s one of the most unique things I’ve read in the past few years. There are some really interesting religious themes in The God Engines, and the end of the story is mind-blowing in not only its abruptness but in its intensity.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson
Legion is another novella, and I really liked how Sanderson took the main character and turned him into a cast of characters by having the supporting characters be manifestations of the main characters psyche. The interplay between characters is very unique as a result and it allows for some interesting plot developments. There is a sequel coming out later this year that I’m very excited to read.

Feed by Mira Grant
Zombie stories are a dime a dozen these days between comics, television, and books. The thing is, almost all of these stories deal with the actual outbreak of the zombies. What makes Feed so unique is that it deals with life after the outbreak when society has figured out how to survive and make a life in a world that has zombies roaming around. I think that’s pretty unique within the particular sub-genre.

The Daedalus Incident by Michael J. Martinez
It hasn’t been very long since I read The Daedalus Incident but I still love how it’s a wonderful mix of science fiction and fantasy all rolled into one. Most books only manage to focus on one of those two genres, but this one blends the two almost seamlessly to create something entirely new and exciting.

Look at that! I managed to find ten unique books after all!

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Top Ten “Gateway” Books/Authors

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

This week’s topic involves which books or authors from my past reading I consider to be ones that introduced me to a new genre, a new style of writing, or something else. It took me a little while to think back to some of the first books I read in order to figure out which ones introduced me to new things, but I think I’ve got a decent list.

Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
This book introduced me not only to Timothy Zahn who has become on of my favorite “must read” authors over the years, but to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which as of today spans well over 100 books. I’ve read them all. If that isn’t what you consider a gateway book, I really don’t know what is to be honest.

First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Thinking back, I believe First King of Shannara was my real introduction into the fantasy genre. I want to say I read it on a whim after seeing it on the shelf at the local library during summer vacation one year. I noticed it seemed to be part of a series, and I figured if I liked it I would at least have some more books in the series to read. It was pure happenstance that I grabbed the right Shannara book to start with.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
As I was already established as a fan of fantasy, this book served as my gateway into epic fantasy. Up until a high school friend recommended The Wheel of Time series to me while we shoveled snow in the church parking lot my only exposure to fantasy had been the Shannara books, which while epic in their own right, are not nearly epic on the same scale as The Wheel of Time.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
When I was at BYU I learned about this guy who had written a pretty decent book called Elantris and how he was one of the professors on campus. Little did I know that reading the book would expose me to my favorite author up to this point in my life.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I’ve read all of the Twilight books because my wife asked me to so she could talk to someone about them when she was finished. That just about put me off of the entire paranormal romance YA trend entirely. Then, while visiting my family in Texas a couple of years ago I needed something to read and picked up City of Bones from my little sister’s bookshelf. Turns out, not all paranormal romance YA is terrible, some of it is actually pretty decent. This book was a gateway back into that subset of fiction for me.

Feed by Mira Grant
Zombies aren’t something I’d have expected myself to be interested in reading about, but this book and its unique approach to a zombie outbreak and the political thriller aspect it weaved into it got me thinking that more zombie books might not be the most terrible thing to read if I can find the right ones.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
These two books are my first real exposure to military-esque science fiction; at least as far as I can remember correctly. My enjoyment of these two books led me to read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, which in turn led me to his other books. They also led me to giving David Feintuch’s Seafort Saga a try, which we all know I really enjoy. I’m very certain a large amount of military science fiction is in my near future.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Literary Fiction? Get that out of my face! That was my usual reaction to anything not written in the science fiction or fantasy genres. Then I met a girl, and I wanted to impress this girl, so I asked her while we were at a book store one evening to pick out her favorite book and I would read it over the holiday break before we saw each other again. Her choice? The Fountainhead. If there was ever a plunge directly into the deep end of reading, this was it. Good thing that girl married me.

Lethal Heritage by Michael A. Stackpole
I already knew of Michael A. Stackpole before reading Lethal Heritage and I was a fan of his work, but this book took my fandom to an entirely new level. He introduced me to the BattleTech universe, filled with dozens of books, and a myriad of wonderful characters. I want to read more BattleTech in the next year or two so I can remember those joys.

Top Ten Things on My Bookish Bucket List

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

This weeks topic really forced me to sit back and think about what kind of book-related things I’d like to do someday. Normally I just worry about which books I’m going to read next and don’t put much thought into anything else regarding those books. But, this week I spent a little time pondering the idea of other book things to do.

Visit Some Presidential Libraries
Before watching The West Wing a year or two ago I had no idea there was a library built for each one of the presidents. Part of me thinks I should probably be embarrassed by that, but then again, it’s not like they are advertised in a major fashion. I think maybe some day when I’m older I might take my wife on a cross-state tour of a few of them.

Meet Some More Authors
I took a class from Brandon Sanderson, so I’ve met him. I’d also like to meet some of my other favorite authors like Terry Brooks, Timothy Zahn, and John Scalzi. I’d also be down for meeting pretty much any other author whose books I’ve enjoyed.

My Own Autographed Collection
At some point in the future I’d like to own a home where I can have an office lined with some really nice, high-quality bookshelves. I read most of my books in electronic format these days, but I think it would be sort of cool to have full collections of some of my favorite book series in hardback complete with autographs on display.

Write My Own Novella or Novel
This has been a life long goal of mine and I don’t really have much in the way of excuses for not having done it yet other than being a bit lazy. I think I’d also like to write a serialized story of some sort for the blog.

Build 20four12 into Something Bigger
I have a lot of plans I’d like to see come to fruition with this blog. Some of them are pretty ambitious and some of them are pretty basic, but they are all plans nonetheless. I feel like 20four12 is something I could really turn into something special if I put the time and effort into it, but knowing exactly where to start has always been difficult.

Read More Classics
There are so many classic books like Tale of Two Cities, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Frankenstein, 1984, Grapes of Wrath, etc that I have never read. Why? I don’t know, I just haven’t. I need to get busy reading some of those books so I can better understand how they have influence the writing of today.

Read the Star Wars Expanded Universe from Start to Finish
With this one I’m not sure if I want to start with the pre-Clone Wars novels and make my way up to the movies and then continue past them, or if I want to start again where I started as a young teenager and re-read the many Star Wars books that made me into the fan of science fiction I am today. I’m probably leaning toward the later.

Become Part of a Reading Group for Science Fiction and Fantasy
I’ve never been part of a formal book club, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a try someday. The only criteria I have is that the club would need to be focused on the science fiction and fantasy genres because otherwise I won’t have enough reading experience in the realm to participate in any meaningful discussions.

Read 100 Books in a Year
I’m three months into trying to get this item done in 2014 and I’m doing pretty well. Will I make it happen? I’m leaning towards saying yes, I will read 100 books this year, but the last few months of the year are going to be the deciding factor. I’m a little worried about reading fatigue by the time October and November come around.

Attend a Large Book Event of Some Kind
Which book event? I don’t know, but I’d like it to be something along the lines of a convention or expo of sorts. I’ve been to a handful of book signings and release parties in my day, so I would like to try something on a grander scale for once.

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List

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

It’s the start of a new season and that means it’s time to take a look at the books I want to read most during the Spring months as they roll past. I’m trying really hard not to buy any new books for a little while until I manage to empty my Kindle of the 27 books it currently holds, so this list of ten is going to come from those books available to me that way. The top ten books for my Spring as determined by my Kindle if you will. Will these be the next ten books I read? Probably not, but they are the ones I’m most excited about reading that I have in my possession at the moment.

first-set

Dawn of Swords by David Dalglish and Robert J. Duperre
This is the newest book by David Dalglish and I’ve read all of his others and loved them. The world Dalglish has created through his entwined series fascinates me for a variety of reasons and this book takes the reader back to the dawn of that world to see how some of the history mentioned in other books came to be.

Unfettered by Shawn Speakman (Editor)
I’ve made it a goal to read a couple of anthologies this year and if I’m going to do that I definitely need to read this one because it features short fiction by some of not only the best fantasy authors in the world, but a majority of my favorites.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
There are a lot of books on my list to read someday and Brent Weeks is one of those authors that it seems like everyone recommends at some point. I figure I’m going to have to read a book or two of his at some point just to see if everyone really knows what they are talking about or not.

second-set

The Seafort Saga by David Feintuch
(Fisherman’s Hope, Voices of Hope, Patriarch’s Hope, and Children of Hope)
I’ve read the first three books in this series and I want to see how everything ends. I’ve had the books on my Kindle for a long time now and I think I’ll feel pretty accomplished if I can get the entire series finished in the next few months. I really want to know what happens with Nicholas Seafort as he gets older and gains more experience with interpersonal relationships and with command. His character has real potential.

third-set

The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch
(The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas Under Red Skies, and The Republic of Thieves)
This is another trilogy that I’ve heard absolutely rave reviews about from every corner from friends, co-workers, and the authors and publishers I follow on social media. Apparently Scott Lynch has got something seriously good going for him with these books and so when they were on sale recently I grabbed the entire set.

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Science Fiction Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Broke and the Bookish.

When it comes to favorite books, I have a very long list of them. When it comes to favorite science fiction books, picking just ten is going to be very difficult, but I’ll give it a try and see what happens. I love an awful lot of them.

Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn
This is my favorite science fiction book, hands down. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t have a massive following, but I still think it’s a fantastic book. There is a surprise twist at the end that delights me every time and I’ve yet to recommend it an have someone not enjoy it.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
I’m sure lots of people would put this on their list because it’s sort of a classic science fiction book, especially for teenage boys. I’ve read it a dozen times and while it has a lot of things going on beyond just the story, I find it to be a great read.

The Blood of Kerensky Trilogy by Michael A. Stackpole
(Lethal Heritage, Blood Legacy, and Lost Destiny)
This trilogy is a fantastic jumping-on point for anyone interested in the Battletech universe and it has the added bonus of being written by a spectacular author. I try to read these books once every couple of years to remind myself of how awesome the universe they take place in is all the time.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This is one of the newer books on my favorites list. I read it in 2012 and while it isn’t my usual fare in regards to science fiction, I found it fascinating. This is another book that I recommend to a lot of people when they are looking for something new to read.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
There are so many reasons to love this book, not the least of which is the wonderful universe Haldeman creates for his main characters. I really connected with this one and I can see its influence in so many other books I’ve read which are more recently published. I’ve yet to read the sequel, but someday I’ll get to it.

The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
(Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command)
I know I’ve put this trilogy on so many of these lists, but I just can’t help it because I love these books so much. They were some of the first science fiction books I read so many years ago and they started me down the path to my love for all things Star Wars Expanded Universe. The writing is superb, the characters are dynamic, and the story in this trilogy spawned so many more great books.