I am a big reader. My wife and I have a bookcase full of books for ourselves and the children in our house, but I think our Audible library is getting even bigger than that. I’ve already shared on ChurchAndMentalHealth.com all of the books I recommend people read about faith and mental health but wanted to do the list of what I have been reading for fun. I always am asking other people what to read next when my list gets too short, so of course it is only fair that I do the same likewise.
First, my niche is definitely in the sci-fi/fantasy realm. I am open to several genres but can dive deep and enjoy this style best. So know this gets reflected in my choices. I also am going to be exclusively recommending series as many of the one offs might have been good, but I love a good world building that expands into long storylines.
The Mistborn Saga
by Brandon Sanderson
This was the first series I dove into and am happy to have found it. The series is part of a larger Cosmere of series writing, so the world-building only becomes bigger and bigger, but this is based on a series where people can develop powers when they burn metals that leads to a nobody street urchin who constantly doubts themselves and discovers a world bigger than herself as she saves the world. A common theme that Brandon has is his world building is off the chart. You understand this completely made-up culture and how there is a deep knowledge of how societal pressures impact the storyline just as much as being able to master her powers. My one shortcoming with Brandon in nearly all of his books is that while he takes the time to really dive deep into the details, nearly every conclusion of a whole series is wrapped up quickly and almost anti-climatically. There is resolution, but for all the deep storytelling, it ends rather abruptly every time. Even his one-off books in the Cosmere universe does this.
The first two trilogies in the series appears to have been completed, with a couple of “in between” books having been written and a third trilogy coming in 2025 to 2027. The interesting thing about these trilogies is they are on the same world with the same way of accessing powers, but the two trilogies are in different centuries and so the world has progressed, showing how things are different with the third trilogy set “in the early days of computer programming.” Interested to see how things develop.
The Stormlight Archives
by Brandon Sanderson
Just as with the previously mentioned The Misborn Saga, this series is based in the same Cosmere universe, though instead of “burning metals” to access power, gifted individuals develop a bond with spren that gives you powers, or owning special weapons and armor, or for those who have trapped spren that can use them even if they do not have the bond. Again, Brandon is a master at world building, but it takes several chapters and honestly several books to fully understand. Just as with Mistborn, this series sees a person whose life became ruined but because of their gifted abilities, they find themselves needing to save the world.
Unlike the Misborn series, this is not divided into nicely finished trilogies. This series is currently four books deep, several books scheduled to be published, and a host of books that talk about short stories between the series. Further, it is all with the same individuals, there is no jumping a century into the future with a new set of characters and we shall see how things turn out. Honestly, everything that is in the Cosmere is great to consume.
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
This is probably the best known series with it being mainstream. Unlike Harry Potter that I loved but am not including in this list, I’m adding The Hunger Games series because they actually introduced a book #0 that happened before the well known trilogy and is worth a read. I hope it isn’t the only book to come out after the fact, but we will have to wait and see.
I love the premise of a broken future and when reading the books, was personally caught off guard about the viciousness of subjecting children to such an idea. Suzanne does a great job of creating a future society that must survive on many different fronts. The new book, I’ll be honest, makes my view of Snow both more cloudy because you find you actually root for him a little but also more concrete in his truly selfishness that makes him feel a little less human in his lack of empathy.
by Scott Meyer
As a computer programmer, I love this book. It takes the idea of magic in the Middle Ages into a new idea of what if the world was just one big program and the magicians were simply programmers that learned how to edit the code and database. Plus, the book series has a lot of nerdiness within it that I can truly relate to that I feel at home while reading it. This is a great “Saturday morning cartoons” kind of feel to it that makes me think several times “if I had that ability, is that what I’d do?” Love it!
The series is currently six books long though every book definitely ends with a nice ribbon at the end, so you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting three or four books in and deciding to try something else. If you want to be extra nerdy, give this one a try.
by Dennis Taylor
Bobiverse goes from ZERO to how to live as an artificial intelligence that can fly in space and needs to safe their country and (spoiler) the world. The idea of Star Trek is fun, but what if you could have your consciousness in a space station and explore space while fighting bad guys and “building” yourself? The premise is not necessarily new, though it is a fun spin. But as the name gives off and the fact that it is a trilogy, we see what duplicating himself can be and all the space-exploring fun, and difficulty, that comes with it.
The book definitely has a lot of sarcasm and nihilistic tones to it as that’s the main character’s bent, but with it comes determination, hope, and nerdy adventure. I have read through the whole trilogy and while the series continues, I have not dove into it as everything wrapped up nicely and the next one has it’s own complications. This book comes from a career programmer, so he definitely speaks that language, so be prepared.
He Who Fights with Monsters
by Shirtaloon (Travis Deverell)
For those that do not know, a LitRPG is a book that combines role playing games like World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons, or Magic: The Gathering with science fiction within a book. The interesting thing about this series is it is written by someone online who originally was not an author and just writing it for fun, but then was picked up for publication. I’ve never read it via online, so only know the Audible commercial product, but that’s still how he posts.
Of all of the books, this one surprised me the most and have been the most pleased. I’ve currently finished book 9 of the series with #10 coming to Audible at the end of November and I feel like the my enjoyment on book 9 is as strong as book 1. Each book is super long and yet I feel like I am always wanting more by the time I’m done.
I do want to give an honorable mention for The Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss. His ability to almost write poetry while doing his storytelling is amazing. The sense of Kvoth being a hero no better than me at times yet at others to be near supernatural in being is inspiring. I did not fully include this book because the trilogy has been unfinished and hanging out there for over a decade with no end in sight on the waiting. I do not love being in limbo and while I do not complain about it, I can’t recommend the series yet.
Now that I’ve shared mine, what are you reading or listening to?