I noticed early on in the week that Goodreads was doing another theme week. This time the theme is Explore Science-Fiction and Fantasy.
While I don’t interact with these theme weeks a whole lot I do find it interesting, as an SFF reader, to see what I have read of the top 100 most popular book lists they shared. I don’t know about you guys, but in general I feel that my interests and reads and what those around me read are different from the popular choices on goodreads. So I’m interested in seeing how that thought holds up against the reality.
The 100 Most Popular Sci-Fi Books on Goodreads
Lets get started with Sci-Fi. Sci-Fi is the genre that I read less than Fantasy but still more than anything else. I read 21 books and so 21% of the list on goodreads. That is not quite a staggering amount and looking at what I want to read, that is also only 15%.
The top ten consists of: 1984 | Animal Farm | Fahrenheit 451 | Brave New World | The Handmaid’s Tale | The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy | Frankenstein | Slaughter House-Five | Ender’s Game | Ready Player One.
Bolded are the ones I’ve read. So that is mostly classics or classic like books. Not really what I look for in sci-fi. Most of my favorite sci-fi reads aren’t in this list or at the very end (Murderbot, Becky Chambers). My tastes just differs from the mainstream sci-fi readers I guess? I’ve never felt much inclined to go back to certain classical Sci-fi.
The 100 Most Popular Fantasy Books on Goodreads
Fantasy is my most read genre so it stands to reason I’d do a little better here. And I do, but it is certainly not at close to even half of that list. 37% Is what I have read, 19% that is on my tbr, I actually dnfed one of the books and I’m not interested in the remainder.
The top ten consists of: The Hobbit | The Fellowship of the Ring | The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe | A Game of Thrones | A Wrinkle in Time | The Princess Bride | American Gods | The Name of the Wind | The Night Circus | Wicked
Again there are a lot of classics here and some big names like George R.R. Martin, Rothfuss, Gaiman and Erin Morgenstern. I’m actually surprised that The Hobbit is number one over The Lord of the Rings, but I guess that has to do with their being a bind-up and separate versions of LOTR.
I see a lot of familiar and reoccuring names here. Gaiman, Sanderson, Tolkien, King, Brooks etc. The very classical names of fantasy. And the very white and male. A quick scroll through gives me R.F. Kuang, N.K Jemisin (twice), Ishiguro and a graphic novel by Liu and Takeda. But that is about it on the POC front. I know this is obviously from a long period of reading but it just shows how far we have to go.
As for my numbers, I mean I’m not so interested in Terry Brooks,Terry Goodkind or Stephen King. I’ve just been looking into different directions for fantasy and reading a lot more by female authors.
45 Recent Hits of Speculative Fiction
This lists focuses on most reviewed SFF books from the last 3 years and whose ratings were not below 3,5 stars on Goodreads. Percentage wise I’ve read more of this list than of the others. But then again this book only has 45 books. Still.
It certainly holds a lot more interesting books. I was for instance quite surprised to see The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. on there as I rarely hear someone talking about that book. I was pleased to see Gods of Jade and Shadow and The Poppy War.
Celebrate Sci-Fi and Fantasy Subgenres with These 64 Books
Lastly there was this topic where they listed various subgenres within SFF with examples of older and newer books that fit in there. No donut chart for this but I do want to walk you through them a bit.
So, You Walk Through a Wardrobe is of course the subgenre Portal Fantasy. I’ve read seven books out of the eight listed. They’ve listed some of the bigger names there like The Magicians, ADSOM, Waywards Children and of course The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Portal fantasies are a lot of fun.
Others I would rec you are: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland | Fairyland series | Amulet | Labyrinth Lost
So, You Have a Special Destiny which is the Chosen One trope. Here I have read two out of eight, with two on my tbr. I’m not sure if I would have chosen the books they listed, like Foundryside and The Dispossessed. Especially not The Dispossessed.
Others I would rec you are: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard | The Dragonbone Chair | Farseers trilogy
Wait, are robots…bad? of course deals with AI, cyborgs and the moral questions those bring along in a lot of sci-fi books. Here I have read one book and have three on my TBR. I’m most interested in Ancillary Justice as I have heard an amazing amount about the whole trilogy.
Others I would rec you are: I, Robot | Closed and Common Orbit | The Cybernetic Tea Shop
Whoops, You Are a Time Traveler throws us in the past or the future. Here I read a grand whooping of one book and one I have on my TBR. Time Travel is just a topic that I find that is hard to get right and so I am less drawn to it
Others I would rec you are: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
That’s So Epic stands for Epic Fantasy. You’d think as a high/epic fantasy reader I’d have slammed this one but it was only four out of eight. To be fair, I have no interest in Robert Jordan or Grace of Kings. And the other two are on my TBR.
Others I would rec you are: Realm of the Elderlings | Night Angel trilogy | The Winnowing Flame | The Broken Earth
Black to the Future is the extra addition of black traditions and cultures with relations to race. That is not a subgenre I have ever thought about but I quite like it. The two books I read of this subgenre are of course The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.
Others I would rec you are: Kingdom of Souls | Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
Obviously I am not black so take that into consideration with these recs.
Aliens and alien invasion stories can be so interesting. And I have been disappointing by so many before. So this probably why I have only read one out of eight here. I’m also not super interested in the other seven listed at the moment.
Others I would rec you are: A Closed and Common Orbit | The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy | Failure to Communicate
So You Live in Space is probably my favorite sci-fi subgenre and it shows. I’ve read four out of eight and I have three others on my TBR. There is something about looking into our future and seeing how we would survive, what technology we continued to create or did we lose everything?
Others I would rec you are: Record of a Spaceborn Few | Revenger | The Outside | Pitch Dark
And that was it. Do you look into the theme weeks at Goodreads on occasion?