Ursula K. Le Guin is an Oregon icon and one of the best-known female science fiction writers. Most people interested in science fiction and fantasy have heard of her, but with such a large body of work, it can be difficult to figure out where to start! Here are my recommendations for layered, thought-provoking stories from Le Guin for many different interests.
The Left Hand of Darkness is Le Guin's best-known work, and for good reason. A fascinating space opera about intercultural relations and the unconscious biases we all hold, there is no quick description of this book that does justice to its depth. However, I promise that any lovers of anthropology, human diversity, and unreliable narration will find meaning in this book. This is a book I kept thinking about long after I put it down and re-read frequently.
This may be a controversial starting place because it’s the second book in the Wizards of Earthsea series, but it stands alone as a powerful quick read. At only 160 pages, this masterclass in novella writing is an immersive and heart-pounding coming-of-age story about a young woman facing the darkness.
This is a compendium of three short books in Le Guin's YA-leaning series. These are fast reads with great characters, interesting settings, and high stakes. This is a great place for younger readers to start. (The Wizards of Earthsea series is also YA-appropriate, but feels more dated compared to contemporary YA).
This is a collection of Le Guin's short stories, from her memoir-like recollections of family trips to the Oregon coast, to the seeds of some of her well-known novels like The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. For those with little time to read, this collection shows all of the writing mastery of her novels, if not more.