(Wow, I'm still a blog of note, huh? I wonder how long this hullabaloo will last. My big announcement is just going to wait until after I stop seeing my name on the blogger main page. Somehow, it's less appealing to make it when I've got over 10,000 visitors in a week compared to my normal 500 or so.)
It seems like "His Dark Materials" took an early and sustained lead in the polls. So I went out and bought the first two books in the trilogy at my locally-owned used bookstore. (They were out of the third volume.)
It's funny to be embarking on another young adult sci-fi/fantasy book series. As a kid, I loved Madeleine L'Engle books (although I remember thinking that some of her stuff was rather strange), and the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper (which I reread and enjoyed a couple of years ago.) As an adult, I've adored Tolkien's Ring trilogy and the Harry Potter books.
But I never embraced the adult sci-fi/fantasy genre. In middle school and high school as some of my friends moved into that realm, I turned to 20th century classics, particularly those with a utopia/dystopia theme (1984, brave new world...). Just looking at the covers of the sci-fi/fantasy paper backs (with alien creatures that looked like giant ants, etc.) was enough to convince me that I didn't want to read them. The fantasy readers that I knew were also some of the social outcasts in our school and reading the books seemed to be synomous with playing D&D to all hours of the night. Though I had a few good friends (my best friend) who fit into that mold, I stayed on the outside of it. I've also not gone out of my way to see sci-fi/fantasy movies.
So I don't know whether I will like these books you've picked for me. It seems like a large number of perfectly reasonable and normal adults are fans of the genre, and especially of the books. Maybe it's time for me to banish the stereotype of pallid role-playing teenagers for once and for all and embrace my inner escapist. I'll let you know how it goes.