Recommendations — What Should I Read?

I have a shameful confession to make.  I don’t read as much sci-fi and fantasy as I ought to.

When I was a child, my education in those areas came primarily from the legacy my father had built up when he was a boy.  He owned stacks on stacks of old pulp paperbacks, a treasure trove for me.  I would spend hours browsing through the titles and authors.  Even then, though, I would almost always choose something from the same collection of names.  AsimovBradburyChristopherClarkeHeinleinPohl.

Occasionally I branch out and consume something new.  However, I almost always do so by recommendation only.  A friend’s raving about a particular graphic novel brought me in touch with Neverwhere and Neil Gaiman.  A teacher slipping me a paperback copy of Ender’s Game on the sly introduced me to Orson Scott Card.  Card himself served as my gateway to Octavia Butler (Wild Seed) and Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn).  I probably never would have given any of those novels a second look in a bookstore.  Now I find it impossible to imagine living without their works and words.

From time to time, I attempt a “catch-up” binge wherein I seek out a list of books I have never read before and — well, and devour them.  Such binges have brought me into contact with Ken Grimwood, Joe Haldeman, and Sheri Tepper, among others.  Yet I can never sustain them.  It’s not that I get put off by something I read.  Never once has a binge of mine found a bad book.  Perhaps it’s the fear of finding something I hate and feeling obligated to read it.  Perhaps it’s sheer force of habit, entropy asserting itself.  In any case, eventually I retreat back to my older favorites.

Well, I feel an urge for another binge coming on, and I’d like to sustain it.  Does anyone out there have any suggestions of authors or works?  Sci-fi, fantasy, and horror preferred, of course — but I have been known to read mysteries, historical fiction, and the occasional best-seller.  I’ll gladly read a soup can if there’s nothing else around.

I hope you won’t let me come to that.

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