I have a confession to make: I've never read a traditional Science Fiction novel. Once, I listened to the audio book of a Star Wars novel, but I don't remember the story at all. I think it was a Rogue Squadron novel, but that's the most I can remember. THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy really is the only futuristic Sci-Fi series I've ever delved into, and the PARASOL PROTECTORATE is the only Steampunk series I've read (and yes, steampunk is Sci-Fi... it just focuses on steam technology that doesn't exist instead of electronic tech).
That changed when I started listening to A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo. I don't have much of an opinion so far except that I like it. I'm enjoying the story, and while a few of the sentences here and there bother me from a technical standpoint, I'm pretty convinced that I want to listen to more of his books (or read them if it's easier to find them in print than on CD).
The reason I bring this up is because I've always loved Sci-Fi as a genre, and I've toyed around with the idea of writing a few Sci-Fi books. I tried my hand at the genre with Flatiron City, and I'll jump into that again in the future. But I think I want to write some space-flight and/or first-contact Sci-Fi. I believe it's important to read the genre I plan to write. In fact, I heard of an author who wrote an entire book, but he (and this is a quote from his best friend) "never really reads anything."
Reading is important for writers. I read YA because I write YA. I read urban fantasy because I write it, and I'm going to read Sci-Fi because I like the genre, I've never gotten into a good series before, and eventually I may enjoy writing it.
So aside from John Ringo, any recommendations? But not Ender's Game. That's not quite the style of narrative I'm looking for.