About ten years ago, when I was in law school, I went on a huge sci-fi reading bender. I spent hours upon hours in the Borders sci-fi aisles and inhaled dozens of books that took place in outer space.
A decade later, these are the books I still think about (and will reread when I get bit by the sci-fi bug again):
1. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card (I read and enjoyed many of the follow-up books; but of the sequels, I loved Ender's Shadow the most. I wish I could force all of my loved ones to read this book. It is one of my favorites of all time).
2. The Hyperion Canto, by Dan Simmons (This is a four book series that start with Hyperion. Entertaining and thought-provoking. The term "sweeping epic" was invented for series like these. Plus, it's called a "canto" which will make you feel extra smart).
3. The Foundation Novels, by Isaac Asimov (I loved this entire series and wanted to cry when I finished the last).
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (Why yes, science fiction can be funny).
5. Dune, by Frank Herbert (Just the first book; the second one got weird in a boring sort of way).
6. The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (The only bad thing about this book is I can never remember the name of the title or the authors. It should just be called The Mote, by Jerry Niven. So much easier).
Just writing this list makes me want to read some sci-fi in the pool this summer. But where to start?