No list of the best fiction books to read can claim to be decisive. Any true list of the best books would be hundreds of entries long. How can we choose to talk about only three?
These three fiction classics provide a range of reading over the last century from the science fiction to the romantic. They are in no way the most classic books ever written: they are three of the best, three of this writer’s favorites, and three essentials on any lifelong list for rainy day reading.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Since a major Dune film adaptation is in the works, now is as good a time as any to explore the expansive world of its author, Frank Herbert. Dune is not average science fiction. It is a generation-spanning tale of environmentalism, sociology, politics, and philosophy.
The book comes with territory maps and lengthy appendices. It’s a perfect fit for forensic readers with a lot of time, those who love exploring a thorough world in the comfort of their minds. As fiction, Dune stands the test of time as a monument to its author’s meticulous imagination. To those who read it, it’s the ultimate escape.
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
Since it was written in 2000, When We Were Orphans has continued to gain acclaim. It now appears on many lists of essential fiction reading. Its author, Kazuo Ishiguro, was a Japanese man raised in Britain. This book shows his heritage, combining a Jane Austen sensibility with his own experiences as a Japanese man surviving the tumultuous last century.
When We Were Orphans is both nostalgic and cautionary. Ishiguro wrote with enough feeling to turn a story about wartime longing into one that applies to anyone, in any time. We’ve all felt like orphans at one point or another. This kind of fiction makes us feel found.
Watership Down by Richard Adams
This book may have been written for children, but it shouldn’t be written off as a children’s book only. Watership Down is a fairytale, written in our time but about worlds and feelings as old as feeling itself. The rabbits that flee the burrow and look for paradise in the perilous Watership Down don’t know how to survive in a scary world. They only know they have to.
Most of us can take their journey as a story of unlikely friends facing great danger. But as we get older, and continue searching for fiction to truly inspire us to make the most of our lives, we look for heart. Few books have as much as Watership Down. The mythology it creates feels like true legends of a shared heritage.
This book stopped being required school reading many years ago. If you missed it, you missed out, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
The best fiction books to read can’t be pinned down to a list of a hundred, much less three. However, these three diverse fiction offerings offer a part of literary history for unique tastes. From science fiction epics to heartful tales of family and longing, this fiction should provide inspiring, cautionary, and romantic literature for anyone looking to read something on a rainy day.