by Herman Hesse
Hesse's Nobel Prize winning novel about a boy comming of age centuries in the future who becomes a gifted teacher and master, or Magister Ludi (the books alternate title) of the Glass Bead Game. It's more culture fiction than science fiction. In fact, it isn't science fiction at all: different genre. What I enjoyed most about the book is Hesse's tounge-in-cheek intellectual brilliance. It is an understated tour de force. Reading it feels like a pleasant afternoon's conversation with the mellow author-genius himself. Appended to the main novel are two novellas that are brilliant and worth reading on their own even if you don't fancy the bulk of the main course.
Hesse didn't like the predominating culture of the late 20th century, with it's predominance of, as he saw it, banality. So The Glass Bead Game is his vision of a better world and a unique hero, a hero of learning and culture, intellectual subtlety and gentle brilliance.
Once you escape into the world of Hesse's imagined better tomorrow, you will be hooked until the last page.