1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Science Fiction that will convert even the most stalwart haters. Human, engaging, moving, fascinating, and the perfect kick-off to one of my favorite book series of all time.
2. The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. Hyperion and its sequel The Fall of Hyperion are books I have to re-read every year. Simmons’ imagining of the far future of humanity and its sprawl into space is completely brilliant and utterly original. Combining literature, history, fantasy, complex scientific advancements, and the most chilling villain this side of forever – it is a must read for lovers of great literature.
3. Ulysses by James Joyce. I know, I know, but I think you just have to give it a shot at least once in your lifetime. Grab a group of friends and meet bi-weekly at a local pub, dissect it chapter by chapter, and always with a pint on hand, and I think you’ll find it a completely bizarre, hysterical, mind-boggling, and ultimately rewarding experience.
4. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. A book I read over and over again as a child, this is the perfect story to teach kids about loss and life in a way that doesn’t feel like clunky moralization. Adults can relate to Billy’s quest to obtain the dogs he wants so badly, and the pitch-perfect depiction of old America is easy to get lost and wander in. It’s an enduring classic for a very good reason.
5. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. Mad and chaotic in the best sense, a true deconstruction of literature and narrative all wrapped up in a legitimately terrifying haunted house story. Believable characters, mystery, puzzles and riddles galore, it is one of the most clever books about books out there and it’s about so much more than it seems. Read it late at night over a glass of wine and enjoy the places it takes you to.