"Today's meme seems to be: List ten books that mean a great deal to you."
The interpretation i'm going with is "most influential" in terms of the effect it had on my life. Which means in a lot of these cases it's the first book i read by the author in question, not necessarily (or even usually) my favorite book by that author. Also, the original meme didn't include commentary on why they were important, i added that part myself. So, in the approximate order that i read them...
1: The Star Beast - Heinlein
- My introduction to Heinlein, my first "real" SF author
2: Dragonsdawn - Anne McCaffrey
- My introduction to McCaffrey, whose books occupied the early part of my angsty teen years.
3: Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes Lackey
- My introduction to Lackey, whose books occupied the middle to late part of my angsty teen years.
4: In the Country of the Blind - Michael Flynn
- Although not technically alternate history it did a lot to get me more interested in the idea, and was also one of the earliest examples i remember of a 30 Xanatos Pileup.
5: The Madness Season - CS Friedman
- Still one of my favorite SF vampire books. Those who know a certain other pseudonym i use can find the origin in this book :)
6: Vigilant - James Alan Gardner
- My introduction to Gardner and his League of Peoples books. This one was particularly relevant to some of the things going on in my life at the time.
7: Ship of Magic - Robin Hobb
- I read the Assassin's trilogy because my SO at the time loved Robin Hobb and those were her favorite, but i just thought it was okay. However i tried the Liveship Traders books after that and really liked them.
8: Rainbows End - Vernor Vinge
- Not the first Vinge book i read, but possibly the most compelling because of its near future setting. It forecasts a lot of things that are quickly becoming reality. Wearable computing, augmented reality, digital archiving of books, self-driving cars, delivery service by drones, and massive government surveillance "for our own good."
9: Shards of Honor - Lois McMaster Bujold
- My introduction to Bujold, one of the best authors out there.
10: Wake - Robert J Sawyer
- Not the first book of his i read, but the first book of the WWW, "Wake", "Watch", "Wonder" series, which i thought was amazing. Of course it holds a special place in my heart because LiveJournal features prominently :)
Nine Princes in Amber - Roger Zelazny
- Almost made the list, especially because i'm sometimes tempted to blame Corwin for my gothy fashion sense.
The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan
- I was obsessed with these during and immediately after college. If only the books hadn't started getting so unweidly and unfocused near the end he might have made the list.
The Magic of Recluse - LE Modesitt Jr
- I've read somewhere between one and two dozen of his books, including about a half-dozen of the Recluse ones. All of his books have been good, but somehow they never really sucked me in.
Changer - Jane Lindskold
- Loved the combination of urban fantasy/hidden world/Arthurian legend, but there were only two books in this "series." The Firekeeper series was okay, but i got tired of it after a bit, and she hasn't done a great deal since then.
To Say Nothing of the Dog - Connie Willis
- Hilarious and very well done time travel novel. None of her other books that i've read so far have had quite the same combination however.
Guilty Pleasures - Laurel K Hamilton
- shelleycat and i shared strong opinions about her books, which was almost enough to get them/her on the list. Except that the opinion was that the Anita Blake books started off good and the Meredith Gentry books started off even better, but both series fell apart after awhile.
The Lost Fleet: Dauntless - Jack Campbell (John G Hemry)
On Basilisk Station - David Weber
- Two of my favorite "pure" military SF authors. Weber has the more impressive resume, and "On Basilisk Station" then led me on to the "Prince Roger" series and then the "Safehold" series, but both the Honor books and the Safehold books have turned into doorstoppers caught in a quagmire of character overload and Series Escalation. John G Hemry's biliography is more limited (though he seems to be trying to do his best to catch up) but is better at keeping his series on track and eventually wrapping them up.
Player of Games - Iain M Banks
- The second book of his i read. Liked Consider Phlebas, loved this, disliked Use of Weapons. A little too hit or miss to make the list.
The Cloud Roads - Martha Wells
Luck in the Shadows - Lynn Flewelling
Rosemary and Rue - Seanan McGuire
Old Man's War - John Scalzi
Leviathan Wakes - James S. A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck)
Steelheart - Brandon Sanderson
- Relatively new authors (at least in my experience of them, i definitely got off to a late start in a few of those cases) who write very good books but whose impact on my life hasn't really had time to be determined yet.