While I agree with Sci's list, about half of them take place as part of an over-arching storyline that might be difficult for a new reader to jump in with.
Not really. The only novels that are serialized to a meaningful degree are the Typhon Pact
ones -- and they literally form a single story among themselves.
The rest are either standalone, or have sequels that you don't need to read.
For the record, the publishing order of the Typhon Pact
books in my list is probably the best order in which to read them, and the order is as follows:
- Zero Sum Game
- Rough Beasts of Empire
- Plagues of Night
- Raise the Dawn
What about books that are stand-alones but still are well thought out, well written, and (most important for me personally) make a person feel like they're watching an excellent episode of the TV Series?
I disagree. A novel is a novel -- it should not make you feel like you're watching an episode of TV. Part of the point of a truly sophisticated novel is to take advantage of the strengths that prose provides which cannot be had in television or other media.
Just like part of the point of a truly good episode of television is to take advantage of the strengths TV provides which you can't find in prose or in other media.