- The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin: The original "waterworld."
- The Dark Tower series: Roland the Gunslinger is hands down Stephen King's greatest character, even if the series got wobbly after Wasteland.
- 1984 by George Orwell: Big brother is watching you...everywhere.
- Ringworld by Larry Niven: A very detailed book about a (literally) manufactured world.
- Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith: Set in a futuristic city where every neighborhood has a different theme. One neighborhood changes color constantly, another is run by cats. Not talking cats-just cats.
- The Great Gatsby: With this one short book, F. Scott Fitzgerald created a glittery world of 1920's wealth and longing. When the narrator attends a party, you can taste the cocktails.
- Don Quixote: Miguel Cervantes creates vivid, dusty Spain-then he sets an old dreamer loose upon it who is living in a world of his own.
- Hobbit / Lord of the Rings / Silmarillion: Tolkien's Middle Earth is probably the seminal and most well constructed fantasy world there is. He spent most of his life (decades) creating it, its history, the history and movement of its people, and even a number of the different languages, down to syntax, sentence structure, and alphabets. Seriously, the guy was a language professor who wanted to create new languages, and made a world and a new history to fit them. I don't think we can talk about world building without mentioning Tolkien.
- Chronicles of Narnia: Not nearly as well constructed as Middle Earth, but I think Narnia also merits mentioning because for quite some time it was the pre-eminent fantasy world for children. It's been supplanted by Harry Potter, but it's still very relevant (they're still making movies of it!).
- His Dark Materials Series by Phillip Pullman: Though I loved the Harry Potter series, I do feel the world of 'His Dark Materials' is much more sophisticated. I loved that it really portrayed the ideas of 'outer and inner self' in some fantastic ways. By using the 'Daemon' Pullman characterized one individual using 2 beings.
- Transmetropolitan: I don't think there is a single page where there is not a trail of cigarette smoke, and it is a must for any fans of Gonzo reporting that was started by Hunter S Thompson. The corrupted use of Nano technology, dirty politics, and vicious media are all things that the disgruntled crude reporter 'Spider Jerusalem' is fighting
- Y: the Last Man: A great series about a world where every male has died except for a man and his monkey. Enough said.
What book worlds do you love best? Which ones do you revisit over and over again? Do share. :)