Book list

I’ve been collecting book recommendations for diverse, inclusive, feminist sci fi and fantasy, and several people have indicated they are also interested in such a list, so I’m collating it here. The ones marked with an asterisk are ones we have read personally and recommend; the others are suggestions from people I know. I’ll be coming back and updating this periodically. I also have a list for myself that’s less exciting nonfiction but we’ll save that for another day.

  • Octavia Butler – all of her work
  • *Ursula K Le Guin –  start with The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed for adult reading; I am particular to her Earthsea books but all of her writing is great, including her writing on writing
  • *Nnedi Okorafor – all her YA fiction. I wish I had these when I was younger.
  • *N.K. Jemisin – a strong recommend from Paul
  • *Ann Leckie – Ancillary series
  • China Miéville – The City and the City, Perdido Street Station, The Scar
  • Caroline Stevermer
  • Robin McKinley
  • Lila Bowen
  • Caroline Robin
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Becky Chambers – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
  • Jeff VanderMeer -the Ambergris books – especially Finch; Shriek: An Afterword;  Southern Reach Trilogy
  • the Cixin Liu trilogy that starts with Three Body Problem
  • Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora
  • Sofia Samatar – Winged Histories, A Stranger in Olondria
  • Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison – Goblin Emperor
  • *Patricia C Wrede – Enchanted Forest Chronicles (I have a soft spot for these as I loved them as a kid, but I’m not sure how they hold up. Guess I’ll have to sign them out again. In this same vein I would also recommend Hild by Nicola Griffith.)
  • and of course, The Handmaid’s Tale, now more than ever

These all run the gamut from straightforward YA to intricate and challenging fiction – you’ll have to do your own research to find out which ones you’ll like, but this is a starting point. I am divided on the definition of progressive, or sensitive – sometimes you want a book that directly counteracts tired stereotypes (i.e. the Ye Old Princess Kicks Butt plot), but as I get older I’m also looking for reads where sexism et al is not a Thing that must be Overcome. I’d rather it not be a thing at all. If you can imagine a world with dragons, how hard is it to imagine a world without structural inequality? Suffice it to say this list varies on this axis as well.

I don’t have comments turned on but you can @ me on Twitter if you would like to add to the list.

(Yes, I know YA can be intricate and challenging. I’m not speaking about plot here, but writing. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, with its dense plot and opaque nomenclature system, is much harder to get into than a Nnedi Okorafor volume. This is not to say one is better than the other; it’s more a matter of preference, like how you take your coffee.)