Obviously this list is subjective, but I still feel I have to throw it out there. Unless there is some objective number to measure “the best” (and you could use sales, or number of printed copies, I understand) it’s purely up to the reader to determine what they enjoyed most when looking at a set of novels.
These are the books I would pick for “best of all time” (not including my own books, of course, haha). These books either have (1) a great message handled extremely well by the narrative, (2) a FANTASTIC narrative, or (3) a great message that can’t be understated.
For me, science fiction tends to have the most of this, but there is one fantasy novel in there. I hope you all enjoy!
A great message wrapped in a great narrative. What more could you ask for? And who doesn’t love post-apocalyptic settings? This book was written before the setting was trendy, and follows the struggles of a guy who stumbles into being a postman for the “Restored United States of America.” He also deals with an EMP stricken world and fights against the “Holnists,” a hyper-violent group out to harass a small town.
The novel has some great inner monologues, and talks about the importance of freedom. Definitely worth a read.
#4—A Game of Thrones
This first novel in the Song of Fire and Ice series is damn near perfect from the standpoint of narrative fiction. None of the other books even come close to the skill and expertise of storytelling in this one novel.
Chapter by chapter, characters and scenes, we see how a story should be told. There is epic symbology, subtle word play, interesting characters, a world that feels lived in, and a conflict too great for a single person. While it doesn’t have the best messages to bring to the table, I do feel it has a gritty/realistic tone that can’t be understated.
#3—Stranger in a Strange Land
Yup! My current favorite book makes the list. It has some interesting thoughts on love, faith, (and what happens if you’re born on Mars) that I think deserves a second read. Heinlein had a lot of great narrative and philosophical ideas, so his name appears twice on this list, but Stranger in a Strange Land holds the special distinction of being more about normal people than grand conflicts.
What would a world of peace look like? What would it take to achieve it? Is that really worth the price to have? It’s a lot of fun to ponder.
More than ever, we have a government (and corporations) that watch everything we do. And I’m not exaggerating. Have you seen the ads that pop up while you’re browsing? Amazon knows everything you purchase and it’s going to selling you more, so help it God. They might as well be Big Brother—it wouldn’t surprise me to hear Facebook beat a guy in a backroom until 2 + 2 = 5, or that the government will now start pursuing “thought crimes.”
That’s probably the creepiest part. I could see pieces of this novel happening in real life. Right now.
Also, special shout out for having a great opening line: “It was a bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
This is a book where the narrative is interesting (who doesn’t like Juan Rico?) but the soul of the novel is the discussion of civil service, military elite, and war. The setting is future Earth, where only those who have served in the military can vote. It explores what would happen to a society who limited influence to a sphere of people, and how perceptions of service would change.
Unsurprisingly, the movie is about killing as many bugs as possible and being a more a satire of military propaganda. There’s also a really stupid green violin, because in the future the only advancement to string instruments is how see-through we can make them.
Want more things to read? Check out my sci-fi epic, STAR MARQUE RISING (“Action fans will enjoy the violence and scheming that drive this story of guile and dark ambition.” – Publishers Weekly).
Or check out my fantasy adventure novel, KNIGHTMARE ARCANIST (“A spellbinding first installment of what promises to be an addictive series, Shami Stovall has produced a mesmerizing story of magic, intrigue, and true adventure.” – ManyBooks)
Until next time!