Today, I will share my five favorite fiction books of all time. Normally I focus on nonfiction book summaries and reading lists.
But today, we’re going to focus on fiction books. I’m going to start out with my top five. And then later in this video, I will quickly go through a list of some of my favorite fiction book series and favorite fiction author, just in case you’re looking for even more recommendations.
Let’s dive straight into it.
1. Daemon by Daniel Suarez
This book is a techno-thriller that was first published back in 2006. Now the title Daemon, spelled D-A-E-M-O-N is a computer term that refers to, quote, a program that runs continuously in the background performing operations at predefined times or in response to certain events.
So it can be thought of as a very basic form of artificial intelligence. Now, while the book’s narrative is built on a foundation of future technology, even though it was first published 16 years ago, it holds up remarkably well.
Of course, some aspects of the book will feel somewhat dated at this point, but in my opinion, this is an absolute must-read.
In fact, it’s my favorite fiction book of all time without ruining the plot. The basic premise is a dying video game designer creates a computer program or a daemon designed to upend society by turning the entire world into a giant game.
And it can recruit human players to do its bidding along the way. Now, this is a fascinating book, but it is one that I do not recommend for young readers or more sensitive readers, as there are some more mature scenes in the book.
So it’s only a book I highly recommend for more mature audiences.
2. Recursion by Blake Crouch
This is a fast-paced science fiction thriller. Now the book opens up with the story of Barry Sutton, a New York City cop who’s investigating something called false memory syndrome, which causes people to have false memories from lives they didn’t actually live.
The cause of these false memories is unexpected, and it serves as the foundation for an entertaining and thought-provoking story.
Now, I don’t want to dove into the details, the twists and turns, and the different elements of the story. But if you enjoy fast-paced science fiction thrillers, I highly recommend that you check out Recursion by Blake Crouch.
3. Freedom by Daniel Suarez.
This is the must-read sequel to Daemon, the very first book on the list.
And while that book was a fascinating read in and of itself, an excellent standalone book, it adds an unexpected twist that causes the reader to reinterpret some of the core ideas from the original completely.
And this is very rare to find in a sequel where not only does it live up to the original book, but it actually causes you to want to go back to that book and reread it with what you now know, because it really kind of takes the ideas into a whole new light.
So if you’re interested in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and other futuristic technologies, I recommend you check out both Daemon and Freedom by Daniel Suarez.
They present an entertaining vision of how technology might potentially impact our future.
4. The Martian by Andy Weir.
This science fiction thriller went mainstream after the story was adapted into a movie with Matt Damon starring as the main character.
The basic premise is that a man is stuck trying to survive on Mars after his team was forced to evacuate their mission, leaving him behind.
I know it’s cliche to say this, but this is the situation where the book, in my opinion, is much better than the movie.
And I think there are two reasons why this tends to be true, especially with stories like this.
- It’s much easier for the author to get inside the head of the main character and to reveal what they’re thinking, what they are feeling, and different emotions and things like that. Whereas in a movie, well, it’s easy to portray the interactions between characters kind of. It’s kind of awkward to get inside their heads so you can have a narrator’s voice-over on top of the scene or something like that, but it tends to be kind of awkward, whereas, with a book, the author can really dive deep into explaining what the character’s thinking, how they are feeling, and other details like that.
- Now, number two is a similar idea, but with the story’s visuals now, typically, we think of a movie as being more visually rich, and in many ways, it is. But in a book, the author has the freedom to really highlight specific details in a scene. So in a movie, you might see a complete scene, but in a book, the author can direct your attention to specific things, and he or she can use your imagination to create a more vivid and interesting story.
So I think this is one of those situations, especially with this kind of story, where the book is just a significantly better format to really understand what the main character is going through. So whether or not you’ve seen the movie before, consider picking up a copy of The Martian by Andy Weir.
5. Terminal Rage by A.M Khalifa.
This is a thriller that is less well-known compared to some of the other books on this list. It opens with a classic hostage negotiation scene but has some wild and unexpected twists and turns along the way.
In fact, that’s a very similar feel to two of my all-time favorite movies, including The Game with Michael Douglas and The Usual Suspects.
The description of the book actually draws a brief comparison between the villain in this story and Keyser Soze the villain in the usual suspects. So if you’re looking for an entertaining read with interesting twists and turns, pick up a copy of Terminal Rage by A.M Khalifa.
6. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.
I love Stephenson’s writing and cyberpunk fiction, Snow Crash is on the list. This is the book that actually coined the term “avatar” in cyberspace terms. I really enjoyed it. There’s one other Stephenson book that I’ve read so far that I like more, which is coming up in the list, but I highly recommend this book if you like cyberpunk fiction at all.
7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
This book didn’t change my life or teach me any big lessons, but I enjoyed listening to it.
It’s a book about basically virtual reality, a kid who goes into a huge virtual reality world, and there are all these ’80s video game and movie and music references. Even though I wasn’t born in the ’80s, much of it was stuff I watched growing up. It was super cool to nerd out while listening to this book.
I did listen to it. I will recommend the audiobook version of this book. While I usually like to create the character voices in my head and narrate my own way, I really liked Will Wheaton’s narration of this book.
Will Wheaton’s amazing in general, and his narration of this book is great? Definitely check it out. Read it either way, but I love the audiobook version.
8. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
You’re probably getting a bit of a sci-fi vibe here, and yes, most of my favorite fiction is sci-fi and fantasy. But I absolutely loved this book. It has a lot of themes about free will and actually made me think a lot.
My friend Martin, who was actually my roommate, recommended this book to me; I believe it is his favorite book.
It didn’t top my favorite list for me, but I enjoyed it a lot, so it makes this list.
9. Ender’s Shadow
I absolutely love Ender’s Game. It’s also one of my favorite books. However, I thought Shadow was a little more compelling because it tells the story from Bean’s perspective instead of Ender’s.
There’s a little bit more grittiness to it. There’s a little bit more of the tactical, nitty-gritty details of how they win the battles, and I really liked seeing his perspective. Also, that secondary perspective opened up a lot of new perspectives on Ender’s thoughts.
So definitely check it out if you haven’t read it. But I would recommend reading Ender’s Game first.
10. The Desert Spear by Peter Brett
Now this book is part of a series called The Demon Cycle, and there are currently four books out right now. I’ve read all four and eagerly await the fifth one, which I believe should be the series’ conclusion.
It’s a story about these demons who come up at night, and they’re basically invincible and unkillable to all the humans until … Well, you’ll just have to read what happens.
But it’s pretty darn cool. This is the one book on my list that I like better than the original start of the series.
I absolutely love the first one, which is called The Warded Man, or The Painted Man, depending on where you live.
But The Desert Spear has a much more interesting setting, in my opinion, and some cooler relationships that are built along its storyline. I recommend the entire series, but the second one is my favorite.
11. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.
Now, I will go on a limb here and say that the entire Mistborn series, at least the first three books, are my favorite in the number five category. I arbitrarily picked the first one because I love all three equally.
But I like Mistborn so much because, number one, it’s just a great fantasy series. But number two, the magic system is so well thought out, and it’s actually got limitations and hard rules.
I think that makes for more interesting character interactions and situations than more arbitrary just whiz-bang magic systems like more Tolkien-esque fiction will have.
That’s why I love them. I also note that there is a new series of Mistborn books called The Wax and Wayne Trilogy, which there are two of those currently out, and those ones are usually shorter.
I think they’re like half – each one is half the length of a normal Mistborn book. But they’re also really great fun to read. So I’d recommend everything in the Mistborn series, and pretty much everything Brandon Sanderson wrote is great.
12. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
This is the second recommendation from Neal Stephenson on this list. Over on my bookshelf right there I have pretty much every other book Neal Stephenson has written since then, except for Seven Eves, which is his newest one.
I have yet to get through those ones because reading can be tough when you run a business. But I did get through both Snow Crash and Diamond Age.
I think I liked The Diamond Age a little bit more, probably because of the character interactions, but also because his mixture of the cypherpunk, ridiculous future nanotech setting, mixed with a resurgence of Victorian fashion and ideals, was just awesome.
Everything Neal Stephenson dreams up in that head of his is just super cool to read about. Now, this was another one that I did in audiobook format.
I’m unsure if the audiobook version was as compelling as the Will Wheaton narration of Ready Player One, but I liked it. So if you’re into audiobooks, I recommend the audiobook version.
Though if you’re not, reading it would be cool, too.
13. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
I absolutely love this book. This was recommended to me on a whim by my friend Carly. I read nothing about it going in.
Honestly, I think that’s the best book-reading experience you can have. I like just taking things on a blind recommendation if they are good.
I got lucky with this one because it is absolutely amazing. Like Mistborn, it has an incredibly well-thought-out magic system with physical properties and limitations.
But also, I just like the characterization a little bit more than the characters in Mistborn, and that’s why this book gets a little bit higher spot on the list from me.
14. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
This fan fiction story was written by an artificial intelligence researcher, Eliezer Yudkowsky, who also wrote a lot on rationality and critical thinking.
This book is basically his attempt at teaching rationality and critical thinking without you really realizing it.
This book imagines a universe where Harry Potter, instead of just being a normal 11-year-old boy, is a genius who thinks through everything rationally and is like a scientist.
What I love about this book is all the other characters are adjusted to match Harry. So it’s not like he’s just going through and having an easy time with everything.
All the other characters are much smarter. If you like Sherlock or Death Note or more rational, cerebral pieces of fiction, then I think you’ll enjoy this.
I’m not going to say you’re going to enjoy it more than Cannon. I personally do, but I don’t want to say that it’s better than Cannon because, obviously, it builds upon the already excellent foundation of story and setting and characters that J.K. Rowling has built.
I absolutely love the cannon. But for me, I think I enjoyed MOR a little bit more. Also, it got me into reading about rationality and reading about critical thinking skills, heuristics, biases, and things that have made me a better thinker.
This is one of those rare pieces of fiction that has made a tangible change in my life, and that’s why it gets such a high place on this list.
15. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galax
It’s no secret that this is my absolute favorite piece of fiction, which is why I have the faux leather cover-bound edition of all five of the books.
I absolutely love these books so much. They are ridiculously imaginative. I just love the dry British humor that Douglas Adams puts into them.
Just read these books no matter who you are. They are fantastic. They’re weird. If you watched the movie and didn’t like it, I absolutely loved it, so we’re on opposite sides with that.
But I will say that the book version is just so much better. I grew up listening to the audiobook version of this book every night for years.
There are actually multiple versions. There’s a version that is read by an entire cast, where every character has their own voice actor.
That one’s pretty cool. Steven Fry has his own narration version, which I believe is the most popular. That one’s awesome. But the one I recommend, if you can find it, is the one that Douglas Adams himself read. His narration is just amazing. It’s just awesome.
Besides the books in this list, I’ve also enjoyed some great fiction series, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which has three books by Stieg Larsson. These Mitch Rapp novels, I believe, are up to 20 books now by Vince Flynn and Kyle Mills, the Will Robbie series, which is made up of five books by David Baldacci, and The Terminal List series with five books by Jack Carr.
Plus, I’ve enjoyed many great books from author Greg Hurwitz, some of which are part of the series and some of which are just standalone reads. And finally, there are some other really great books out there by authors Daniel Suarez and Blake Crouch.
If you have any favorite fictional book you’d like to add to the mix, let me know by posting a comment in response to this post.