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Cornerstone novels of genres

Jere

Allohistorical
Validated User
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (seriously more important than Tolkien)
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler (first SF author to win a MacArthur fellowship)
Earthsea series, Ursula LeGuinn (as many people have stated more of a cornerstone than most of the fantasy listed here, also really important SF)
RiddleMaster of Hed, Patricia McKillip
Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley (and for some awesome Urban fantasy read Sunshine)
Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter
Canopus in Argos sequence, Dorris Lessing (arguably greater than Asimov and Heinlein combined, she won a Nobel prize in literature after all)
Magic is for Beginners, Kelly Link (for something more recent)
Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice (for your urban fantasy/horror fix)
Doomsday Book, Connie Willis (so hard to choose just one)
 
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