Yesterday I came across this post at Torque Control, which is about trying to put together a list of twenty ‘essential’ fantasy books from the previous twenty years. Although the post dates from 2008, I’ve been inspired to put together a list of my own (the TC discussion sprouted from a similar one about essential science fiction, but I’ve stuck to fantasy as I’m more widely read in that genre).
First of all, I should make it clear what this list is and is not. It’s not a list of ‘essential’ books, ‘recommended reading’, nor even a list of favourites. Some of these books are not, strictly speaking, fantasy — but I’ve included them anyway. Some of these books, I haven’t even read. These are simply books that I’m glad to have read, would like to read, or would like to re-read (because I think I’d appreciate them more second time around).
Ursula Le Guin, Tehanu (1990)
John Grant, The World (1992)
Michael Swanwick, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter (1993)
Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1995; tr. 1997)
Christopher Priest, The Prestige (1995)
Philip Pullman, Northern Lights (1995)
Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (1997)
Mary Gentle, Ash (1999)
China Miéville, Perdido Street Station (2000)
Robert Holdstock, Celtika (2001)
Kelly Link, Stranger Things Happen (2001)
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind (2001; tr. 2004)
Graham Joyce, The Facts of Life (2002)
Jeff VanderMeer, City of Saints and Madmen, 2nd ed. (2002)
K.J. Bishop, The Etched City (2003)
Allen Ashley, Somnambulists (2004)
Margo Lanagan, Black Juice (2004)
Tim Lebbon, Dusk (2006)
Ramsey Campbell, The Grin of the Dark (2007)
Helen Oyeyemi, White is for Witching (2009)
Comments are, of course, welcome — and what would be on your list?