Reading List

This is a standing page that keeps track of my progress on the “Reading Like a Writer” to-read book list that I originally posted in fulfillment of part of Gabriela Pereira’s DIY MFA.

Competitive Titles

Books/stories that “compete” directly with the stories you are actively trying to write. Same genre and category as your work(s) in progress and cover similar themes or subject matter.

Short Fiction Magazines:

  • Asimov’s Science Fiction
  • Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Ecological SFF:

  • Forty Signs of Rain, Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Three Californias, Kim Stanley Robinson
  • A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Dune, Frank Hebert
  • Annihilation, Jeff Vandermeer
  • The Crystal World, J.G. Ballard

Sociological / Political / Spiritual :

  • The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemison
  • The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
  • Hyperion, Dan Simmons
  • Dune, Frank Hebert
  • Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds
  • The Unbroken, C.L. Clark
  • The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K. LeGuin

Contemporary Space Opera with overlapping themes of political intrigue, ethnic identity, colonization

  • A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine
  • Ancillary Justice, Anne Leckie
  • The Quiet War, Paul McAuley
  • Blue Remembered Earth, Alastair Reynolds – (DNF)
  • Surface Detail, Iain M. Banks

Contextual Titles

All the books that put your current project(s) into context. This includes references and research materials. These contextual books might have a similar theme or subject matter as your own but fall in a different genre, or target a different group of readers. You might also read contextual books that use a particular storytelling technique, even though in terms of subject it is completely different from your own book.

  • The Dispossessed, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • The Nakesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
  • Barkskins, Annie Proulx
  • Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
  • Blue Skinned Gods, S.J. Sindu
  • Zenogenesis, Octavia E. Butler
  • Green Grass, Running Water, Thomas King
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • The Unbroken, C.L. Clark
  • The Overstory, Richard Powers
  • The Devourers, Indrapramit Das

Contemporary Titles

Read a few recently published (within the last three years) books in your chosen genre each year. Be aware of new trends in the genre, the broader conversation around these works, and how they are marketed to the current audience of genre readers.

  • A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine
  • A Master of Djinn, Djeli Clark
  • Network Effect, Martha Wells
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir
  • The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemison
  • The City We Became, N.K. Jemison
  • The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir
  • The Unbroken, C.L. Clark
  • Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse
  • The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang


Genre dependent, but you need to know what the founding assumptions and touchstones are of the genre(s) you’ve chosen to write in. You can’t (effectively) break what you don’t know, and you can’t reach readers who speak a language you don’t understand. You need to be able to get into the headspace of a genre to affect it.

  • 1984, George Orwell
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke
  • Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller
  • Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
  • The Dispossessed, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K Dick
  • Dune, Frank Hebert
  • Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  • The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
  • Foundation, Isaac Asimov
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  • I, Robot, Isaac Asimov
  • The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein
  • Neuromancer, William Gibson
  • Ringworld, Larry Niven
  • Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
  • Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein