Goodreads Top 100 Fantasy Books

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How Many Of the Top 100 Fantasy Have you Read

  • Under 25

    Votes: 12 75.0%
  • Beteween 25 and 50

    Votes: 3 18.8%
  • More than 50

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • Nearly all

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    16

Jason

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Well Goodreads has done it again. Here's the Top 100 Fantasy Books:


https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1875-the-100-most-popular-fantasy-books-on-goodreads


ICYMI, the week prior they published the "Top 100 SciFi Books" too...

Do they not know I don't have time to read all these books on top of my own 100 Must Read books?!?! :)

In any case, the questions for discussion remain:



  1. How many have you read?
  2. Any included that surprised you?
  3. Any missed that you'd add?

And FYI, I'm at three Excel tabs of books to read now at 100 books per tab. There is some overlap but not a ton...
 

FletcherHavarti

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I've read 19 of these (only 19!) -- but many of the others are on my to-read list. I was surprised Dune was not on the list; it's sorta SF, sorta Fantasy. Harry Potter should be there, too. Great to see Jonathan Strange included, although I would have put that one much higher. They did have the first GRRM Ice and Fire novel in there, but the third book is the one I would have picked (if I had to choose only one).

Wishing I weren't such a slow reader...
 

InkFinger

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Only 18 for me, although there were quite a few titles by some of those same authors I would have expected to see. And I didn't give myself credit for The Silmarillion or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I couldn't finish either one. Tolkien because I was too young, and Strange because I didn't like it.
 

Lakey

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As I said in the thread about the sci-fi version of this list, I’m not much of a fantasy reader, so I’m not surprised to have only read about 8 of these (not counting Lord of the Rings, which I could not get through). It tickled me to see 1Q84 on the list, because in a recent discussion here on AW about the line between historical fantasy and magical realism I said that 1Q84 doesn’t read like fantasy to me, but that I might be persuadable otherwise. I also understand why Madeleine Miller’s books wind up on this list — indeed, in that same AW discussion I explicitly said that a book that asks me to believe that the ancient Pantheon really exists is certainly fantasy — but I’m still tickled because they read to me more like historical fiction despite that. These lines can be so awkward to draw.

But as far as fantasy qua fantasy goes — not these liminal cases — I have read very, very little. The Mists of Avalon, of course (no woman my age who is the slightest bit of a reader did not devour that in the 80s); CS Lewis, a little Tolkien, Madeleine L’Engle, and of modern writers only NK Jemisin. (I have read some LeGuin but only books that appeared on the SF version of the list, none of the Earthsea stuff.)

:e2coffee:
 
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I've read 41. Of the 59 I haven't read, there are a handful I started and set aside.

I would have a very different list, even if I were trying for a "canonical" sort of list.
 

Chris P

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12. About what I expected I would have read. I've read a lot more fantasy than that, only very deeply into a couple authors (Dennis L McKiernan, and Piers Anthony's Xanth series) and not broadly. Since neither made the list, let alone the 63 or whatever books in Xanth, I've actually read more.

Once and Future King was the first book of the genre I read, and I fell in love. I re-read it again a few years ago and although it didn't enchant me as much as it did back then, it was still quite solid.

Eyes of the Dragon was the first Stephen King I ever read. I thought it was delightful. It wasn't at all what I was expecting based on the Christine and Kujo movies popular at the time.

To this day, The Hobbit brings to mind hot chocolate. I couldn't have been more than about seven years old, and I was walking with my brother and his friends down the street on a blisteringly cold winter night. We were rushing to get home before the animated movie The Hobbit started on TV. Mom had hot chocolate waiting for us, and now the two are linked forever whether I'm reading the book, watching the cartoon, or seeing the live-action films.
 

Jason

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The interesting thing for me was that there's books from a larger collection of works, like those from Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, GRRM and Tad Williams. Even keeping in mind that this list is simply one of a popularity thing from the folks at Goodreads, I'm surprised they're not collating the collective popularity of the entire set vis a vis:

Tolkein's LOTR is really a four book series, with The Hobbit, Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers and Return of the King

C.S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia is really a 7 book series, with Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, VOyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magicians Nephew, and The Last Battle

GRRM - A Song of Fire and Ice is (allegedly) 7 books: Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, and many fans awaiting the release of The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.*

Terry Brooks - Shannara Series (at least the initial installment) was really a trilogy (a la Tolkien) with The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, and The Wishsong of Shannara).

Tad Williams - The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn was also a trilogy of books: The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower

*****

To simply pull one book from what is clearly meant as part of a larger collection and call it "The One" I think does each author an injustice. And I'm just picking what are likely the most popular series of books that are listed here. These ones alone would make up 22% of the top 100. Does that mean stripping other authors out? Probably, but I'm ok with it because these writers really do grab that much of the market. I think that's also a fairer metric, because for me once I read one book in a series, there's a compulsion to find out the rest of what happens! :)

So, that means if you hook me in your first book of a series, I'm smitten for the rest.

And finally, if you're going to include a series as part of this popularity metric, am really surprised like others have said that the omission of the Harry Potter collection clearly displays some subjective criteria in even creating this "list" in the first place.

Be that as it may, if you'll excuse me, I need to keep reading. If I can finish my goal of the 100 canonical books, 100 Sci Fi books, and 100 Fantasy books, I'll likely start making a claim that I am finally a well-read individual :) :) :)

*I'm finally done with what's been published though, so will permit myself to view the HBO series now...
 
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Brightdreamer

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41, though I agree that the cover pictures used were confusing, often. Had to really squint to read some of those font choices.

The title says that these are the 100 most popular fantasy books on Goodreads, which is more of an objective "these are books that many people read" than an attempt at a definitive "these are the best." If it were a "best of" list, I'd definitely do some shuffling, though several here would appear on it.
 

Kerosene

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25.

Although I'd say I've started another 10 and dropped them. Maybe 8 of them I've read the full series, a few several times.

Echoing, this is just the highest rated/most read books on Goodreads. I wouldn't put half of these books on a 'To read' list, honestly.
 

RC turtle

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22 — and this time when I checked to see if there was anything there that I wanted to read, I hardly found any. I blame the blurbs. Most seemed to be all about plot, no character, and I can't believe they represent the books well.
 

Chris P

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The Mists of Avalon, of course (no woman my age who is the slightest bit of a reader did not devour that in the 80s)

I read the first 50 or so pages of that, loved it, but then got distracted (I don't remember by what but it was high school so it could have been anything). I meant to get back to it and never did. Now might be the time! 30 years later I recall certain scenes as if I'd lived them, which says something about the writing.
 

Cobalt Jade

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Yeah, the criteria was both "most reviewed" plus "highest rated." Which translates to "best marketed." I'd say about half of them don't belong in a list of Best Fantasy. I mean, Terry Goodking? Charlaine Harris?

I've read about 14.
 

Roxxsmom

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I've read about 37 of those, and have probably attempted another 11 but didn't get very far into them (I could never get sucked into the Lies of Locke Lamora, for instance, in spite of wanting to like it).About 10 have been "to read someday" list for a while. There were some there I hadn't heard of but that look interesting too. There are also some on the list I've heard of but have never been that interested in. I'm surprised nothing by Phillip Pullman made the list, though. Some other popular authors are missing too (like Mercedes Lackey). Not everyone loves her work, but I'd argue something by her should be there. Oh, and Seanan McGuire's "Every Heart a Doorway" should be there imo, though it's technically a novella, I guess (it was published as a stand-alone novel, however). Some classics, such as works by Moorcock and Fritz Leiber, are missing, though that's probably not as big a deal, since fantasy and SF lists so often are weighed in favor of classics instead of more recent works. I guess this is based on books people have been reading (or reviewing) most on Goodreads in recent years. Some of the "classics" are books I read long before Goodreads existed.



I'd say this is probably a better list than some lists I've seen in terms of inclusiveness, but it's still falling well short of what's out there. Lots of repeat books by the same authors. I don't know how one list could ever encompass the breadth and depth of offerings in either fantasy or SF, though. Maybe it's better to list top authors, rather than individual books. That would eliminate the duplicate titles by especially prolific and popular writers and get more names out there.

I am surprised Harry Potter isn't there. I can't believe it hasn't been read and rated by a lot of people on Goodreads.
 
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katfeete

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Yeah, the criteria was both "most reviewed" plus "highest rated." Which translates to "best marketed."

Mmm, maybe, but I’m also looking at this list and thinking about how much fantasy has exploded in the last two decades and how many “and this is how I got into fantasy” book paths I can trace.

When I was a tween (late eighties and early nineties) living in a poor, rural town, there were roughly three kinds of “kid books” available to me: Nancy Drew, preachy “issue” books, and fantasy, which was considered by its nature to be “for kids” — and thus got away with a lot more mature and complex stories than any of the others. Tolkien, the Earthsea trilogy, C.S. Lewis, Diana Wynne Jones, A Wrinkle in Time, Watership Down*, The Once and Future King -- this was all stuff I chewed through a dozen times under the uneasy eye of the Bossy Librarian, who didn't entirely approve but would at least not corner my mother with lectures about how I should be Reading Books Appropriate To My Level while waving a picture book about alligators.

And so when I did get let loose on the adult shelves I went looking for adult fantasy, but, well... it was the nineties, in a poststamp rural library; they mined a narrow vein of what was then a pretty narrow genre. That's when I read all the Robert Jordans (given to me by the Bossy Librarian's nemesis, Awesome Librarian In A Wheelchair), Goodkind, Tad Williams, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb, and half a dozen others (honestly surprised not to see a Mercedes Lackey on here; teenage girl me must have chewed through a dozen of those.) Heck, if you walked me into my old library, I could probably show you where most of those were on the shelves, I checked them out so many times. The internet was in its infancy, Amazon didn't exist, the town bookstore only carried thrillers and the Left Behind series. They were what I had. And let's be honest, I probably remember them more fondly than I should, and rate 'em higher, because of that history**.

I was already a fantasy reader by the aughts, but you can pretty easily trace path #2 to "wait, fantasy doesn't suck". Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison -- OH HAI urban fantasy boom that massively expanded both fantasy fandom and the scope of the genre! At roughly the same time you have the narrower but fruitful path #3, embodied by folks like Gaiman and China Mieville and Susannah Clarke, wherein people suddenly noticed waitaminute this is almost like literature and it started getting put in the front of the bookstore, instead of hidden in the back.

And, finally, the media-or-other-fame tie-ins that brought their audiences with them: Gaiman again (jeez, that guy) Princess Bride and The Neverending Story, Game of Thrones, The Witcher. Gateway drugs for a lot of folks all.

It's interesting how visible this is to me as compared to the SF list. Possibly because SF hasn't exactly had its mainstream moment, or had it long enough ago that it's not my memory and then faded back a bit. Or, you know. Possibly because I've got a pressure headache and am seeing patterns that don't exist. ;)


* But seriously guys this isn't even a borderline case, this is not a kid's book, please stop filing it like one, you are TRAUMATIZING PEOPLE.

** Except Goodkind. Screw Goodkind.
 
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Chris P

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@katfeete: you brought back memories of what it was like back then! The fantasy shelves of the mid- to late-1980s in small town were pretty grim. Tolkien, Shannara series, and, um, who else now? Ursula le Guin was around, but I don't recall seeing her on the shelves. I remember being disappointed how few titles weren't kids stories or (this seemed really popular at the time) whacky tongue-in-cheek lampoons. That's what I liked so much about McKiernan (despite the obvious retelling of parts of LOTR) and the first four Piers Anthony Xanth novels: they took themselves seriously enough to be good reads without being overblown. There wasn't enough of that at the time, and it's encouraging that this seems have changed.
 

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