42. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Of all the serendipitous books that have been #42 on my annual reading list, this is the most appropriate. Arguably even more so than the Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide, because this book is all about references.
Ready Player One is infused with every geeky or nerdy or dorky tidbit that you could possibly conjure. I wish I had more time to do it justice, but this is the book that I'm recommending to every science fiction fan I know. This should have been the theme book for Dragon Con.
Besides the impressive breadth of references, spanning Star Trek to the Whedonverse to Pac-man and Mario, Tolkien to Lewis to Douglas, Hughes to Spielberg to Goldman, the characters are just so darn likable. Wade Watts, the protagonist, is positively adorable. He's a savvy kid in a bleak vision of the future, who is, obviously, up on all of the above geeky types of knowledge, a loyal friend, and charmingly naive as a would-be lover. (Confession: If I were writing my list of top ten literary crushes today, Wade might be number one.)
USA Today described the book as "Willy Wonka meets the Matrix" and that comparison is totally apt. People spend most of their time in a virtual reality called the Oasis. In real life, everyone is poor and the government is falling apart. The creator of the Oasis has passed away and left ownership of the company and his entire fortune to whoever can solve the "Easter egg hunt" he left behind i.e. a series of clues based around those geeky references that mostly stem from the 1980s. An evil company known as the Sixers want to win, so that they can monetize the Oasis. But our trusty Wade is the first to find a clue...and so it goes (see, I can reference too!).
Ultimately, this is a fun adventurous romp with serious geek cred that will make you feel warm and happy inside. Let the reading commence!