Some of the sci-fi I've read, sorted by the product of (recommended * obscure), descending. You'll notice a few trends:

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang, 2002 Short Story collection. Required reading. My top 3 favorites are Understand, Story of Your Life, and Division by Zero.
The Martian by Andy Weir, 2011 Castaway but on Mars. Excellent story. Cool science. Highly entertaining. Total page turner. Loved it (and the movie, rare!) a lot, lower only because it is so popular.
Nexus by Ramez Naam, 2012 Highly enjoyable world-building set in a Neuralink future.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang, 2019 Short Story collection. Required reading. My top 3 favorites are Exhalation, What's Expected of Us, and The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate.
His Master's Voice by Stanislaw Lem, 1968 Carl Sagan's Contact but for adults.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, 2021 One of my top favorite alien portrayals, strikes a good balance between plausible, interesting and entertaining. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect by Roger Williams, 2006 A twisted, raw, curious portrayal of a future with an AGI gone... mixed.
Fiasco by Stanislaw Lem, 1986 A most interesting alien contact. Inventive, cool.
Permutation City by Greg Egan, 1994 Simulation. Artificial Life. Aliens. Highly inventive, enjoyable.
Contact by Carl Sagan, 1985 Alien contact. Liked the book quite a lot more than the movie (though the movie is great too).
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, 2011 VR Metaverse. Super nerdy. Down with corpo. Highly enjoyable. Total page turner.
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, 1973 Really fun mystery alien contact page turner. I refuse to acknowledge the sequels.
Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle, 1957 Highly inventive alien contact. Very enjoyable.
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, 1969 An alien microscopic organism makes first contact with humans and it ain't pretty. A bio-heavy hard sci-fi all the way from 1969, an era that was otherwise decidedly all about space.
Dragon's Egg by Robert Forward, 1980 Highly inventive and fascinating alien contact. A little too long.
The Three Body Problem (books 1,2,3) by Liu Cixin, 2006 Several fantastic diamonds of novel ideas sprinkled about, but mixed in with a large mass of goo, soulless characters, narrative/logical inconsistencies, poor choices of what to expand on and what to omit, and a really disappointing conclusion.
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, 1950 Early robot short stories. Read it a very long time ago but only medium enjoyed, would like to re-read.
A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge, 1992 Incredible first chapter, bit downhill from there. Disliked everything about the Tine race of sentient ... dogs?
Foundation by Isaac Asimov, 1951 Incredible first chapters and macro world building. Love the concept of psychohistory and story arch. Disliked the societies that are indistinguishable from 1950s as they quabble with each other and smoke tabacco.
Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, 1953 Alien contact sci-fi. Independence Day but friendly. With a twist. Humanoid aliens who speak English and have faces not super my cup of tea.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, 1959 A man undergoes a procedure to increase his intelligence. Inventive, clever, interesting.
Daemon by Daniel Suarez, 2006 A story of an AI take over. Highly inventive, but also a bit inconsistent and tedious at times.
Excession by Iain M. Banks, 1996 Read a very long time ago, remember really enjoying select parts having to do with a highly mysterious superintelligence. Note to re-read.
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, 1961 Another genuinly interesting treatment of an interesting alien from Lem. A little too frustrating/tedious to read in all other aspects.
1984 by George Orwell, 1949 A bit too much of a caricature but very enjoyable. A little too real. Newspeak.
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 2015 Interesting alien civilization premise, a little too long. Loved the idea of a "classicist".
Dune by Frank Herbert, 1965 Love the world building (e.g. the lore behind the deliberate absence of any AI), dislike everything else.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, 1966 Made it about halfway then lost interest. Some interesting ideas (rock throwing), but implausible AI, imo. Note to give another shot later.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, 1985 A bit like Harry Potter in space, but less fun and inventive. Fun twist at the end.
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis Taylor, 2016 Cartoony characters bickering with each other while exploring naive notions of Universe and alien life.
Old Man's War by John Scalzi, 2005 Space opera sci-fi, a bit too bland on ideas and scope.
Blindsight by Peter Watts, 2006 Alien contact that didn't capture me.
Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon, 1937 Intriguing concept. I really wanted to like it.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons, 1989 Tales of human relationships that happen to take place in future. A good example of a very popular "sci-fi" that I really disliked.
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks, 1988 At one point there were some alien females wearing jewels and I just couldn't continue. A good example of sci-fi where my taste departs from popular taste. I simply cannot tolerate or accept antropomorphic aliens, it makes me angry.
A for Andromeda by Fred Hoyle, 1962 Alien contact, but no. Can't recall exactly but something upset me about the treatment of AI in this book.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, 2015 Didn't finish. "The moon exploded, humanity is on the brink of extinction and I just might die of boredom."