Sorry, was out and about today...
Favourite novels. I read in lots of different genres, so I'll break it down a bit:
Historically, I loved Heinlein growing up and he was probably my first sci fi book (Starbeast, I loved it).
I worked my way through Dune (I stopped at book 4 as I recall and what did for me was Ghani claming that Leto was the twin who chose to change because he was always the strongest. I was too young, then, to perhaps understand that male protagonists were more common in sf, but what she said didn't ring true to me, because I'd seen her as the strongest and most believable. That occured to me the other day, that line, and how it sort of ruined me for reading on.)
I enjoyed Clarke, particularly Rendezvous with Rama, and also like Orson Scott Card. I know he's out of favour at the moment, but writing-wise he's written some of my favourite books, especially his short collection Maps in the Mirror and a standalone, Songmaster (which blends a sort of fantasy/sf feel, which I like.)
Recently, I loved Chris Beckett's Dark Eden - looking forward to the sequel in pb - and then I discovered Lois McMaster Bujold. I'm really glad I didn't read the Vorkosigan books prior to writing Abendau but when I did (@Vertigo
reccommended them when I was trying to find comparitors) I was blown away. Here was someone writing the sci fi I liked - character focused, light tech, great dialogue. She made me hope there was a market for that sort of series, and gave me confidence to keep at the trilogy.
While I lean more to sci fi, I've read loads of fantasy, mostly making my way through some of the classics - Tolkien, Eddings (I loved the Sparhawk books) and the like. I also went through a distinctly cheesy period and read most of Shannara and Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame portal series - I came across those again recently and whilst I winced at some elements still found them a fun read.
More recently, @Boneman
has converted me to Rothfuss, and I've really liked the Kingkiller Chronicles. Basically, I'd like book three please. Today... I also enjoy some of Gaiman - when he hits the mark for me, he really does. I adored Ocean at the End of the Lane, but American Gods left me floundering. The other modern series I really like is Aaronovitch's Peter Grant books, I'm looking forward to the next one.
Also, in fantasy, I really like magical realism. I came across it via John Taylor from Duran Duran recommending Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits, proving an obsession with pop stars can have positive outcomes. I still love Allende's warmth, but I also adore the Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies and just about anything by Zafon, with a particular love for Marina by him. Beautifully told.
Ironically, for someone who has written something quite dark, I'm not a huge reader of Grimdark. I prefer my darkness a little more distant, on the psychological level mostly. But I've read Martin, Abercrombie, Lawrence, Mistborn etc so there are parts of the genre I like (the no one is safe aspect appeals.)
I was a big King and Koontz reader when I was young with forays into Jackson et al. I don't really read it anymore but early King, 'Salem's Lot in particular, still hit me as great tales.
Loads. I went through lots of classics, love Emily Bronte, and lots and lots of plays. But my favourite non -genre novels are (roll eyes everyone) Captain Corelli'sMandolin (the most destroyed book by a film ever?) for its warmth and characters, and that it makes me cry, and The Time Traveller's Wife, for much the same reason.
I'm led by characters. All the writers I most enjoy write great, rounded, warm characters. Maeve Binchy, I love, Margaret Mitchell (who even makes Scarlett O'Hara strangely likeable, somehow), Marian Keyes, are all writers I go back to for relaxation.
I'm not a huge Young adult reader - which might explain why my YA books rarely sit easily in the genre - but found Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go an intriguing book - especially the start, which I found very good (it fell off for me later, sadly.) I enjoyed Jo Walton's Amongst Us very, very good and would recommend it for a clever blending of reality and fantasy. I've also enjoyed Chris Wood's stuff - it's nice to see some good sf for boys out there, and I think he does that well.
I like a lot of books with young protagonists - Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird, for instance - but am not sure where I sit with terming them YA. In fact, a lot of the time, I'm not sure the definition is helpful. But that's a different conversation.
(Oh, and an up and coming author, Anna Dickinson, I love her YA stuff.
Books anyone should read? Apart from more space opera....
I don't know there is anything anyone should read, except what they like. I don't think only reading genre is helpful for a writer, though, as it can make seeing trends in books harder and because there are things other genres do better that can challenge how we approach things. But that's just me - others may argue I should read more widely in the genre, and they might be right....