A lot of people have asked me for recommendations of steampunk works that they can read and enjoy, in order to get a better feel for the genre. I'm always happy to compose individual lists for each person, but I figured that perhaps a better and more efficient (my boss's watchword) idea is to compose a list on here that I can point further requests to.
So, without further ado, I give you the Not-All-That-Comprehensive List of Steampunk Recommendations!
The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling is, according to many, THE definitive steampunk work. For my money, I prefer to recognize it as the first book that pushed steampunk from minor obscurity inside speculative fiction up on the path to where the genre is today.
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is one of the proto-steampunk works. Pretty much any of Wells' science fiction falls into the category of proto-steampunk. You might be asking yourself what "proto-steampunk" means. Well that particular term means that the fiction of Wells, Jules Verne, Mark Twain, and Mary Shelley (yes, Frankenstein counts) help to influence the attitude of most modern steampunk works.
Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters is alternate history steampunk, where the Whitechapel district of London was taken over by crazy steam-fueled gods and clockwork men that battle against the "plucky human resistance." It sounds like every other resistance fights the power story, but it's kind of cool nonetheless. Read it for the worldbuilding if nothing else.
Soulless by Gail Carriger is what's called a "steampunk romance." It's a very interesting concept, based on what I've read so far, and I'm looking forward to reading the story once I get a chance (yes I bought a romance novel -- this will make two that I've willingly read).
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield and the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman are both good-quality examples of YA steampunk. Westerfield's work is alternate history, whereas Pullman composes fantasy steampunk. Both do masterful jobs at building their steam-powered worlds. And Westerfield includes an appendix explaining history as it actually happened!
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is a prototypical tale of fantasy steampunk. Some of my readers might recognize Mieville's name from his book Un Lun Dun, a young-adult fantasy, and probably already know more about his style than I do.
My plan is to add to this list of recommendations as time goes on and I find more examples of quality steampunk literature.
Your thoughts on my suggestions are appreciated, as always.