I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
If you want to know why Asimov is revered, you only need to read this book. Astounding.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Often mistaken as a horror novel, the tale of a scientist maddened by his pursuit to create life is pure sci-fi gold.
Dune by Frank Herbert
The son of a betrayed and murdered duke is given up for dead on a treacherous desert planet. Plots worthy of a treacherous royal court, enemies at every turn, folding space, and riding sand worms. An amazing epic.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A chilling look at future Earth where women are rated by their ability to produce offspring. I’ve never quite gotten over this one. It gives me nightmares.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
In a word: brilliant. The hilarity just goes on and on in this mad space adventure. Depressed robots, the Ultimate Question of Life, and incredibly bad poetry … but as the guide says, Don’t Panic.