The Long Read

I had originally intended to read several larger books this year just as a little theme, but being back in school has hindered my reading in general let alone larger works, so I figured I’d just make a list and hopefully pick this theme up next year when I should be done with my degree and (hopefully) have some more time on my hands. I at least won’t be reading textbooks.

Below are several of the books I’ve been intending to read that near or surpass the 1000 page mark. How many have you read? How do you feel about large books? I’m curious if you have or intend to read any of these as well.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Count of Monte CristoI have been meaning to read this book for a long time. I think I started it several years ago but only made it a few hundred pages in before stopping (I can’t remember why). I really enjoyed the 2001 film of this book and I think that was when I first wanted to give it a read, but I think I will appreciate the book much more now that I am older.

IT

ItOkay, this book was never really one I would have picked up, but I’ve heard many times how good the book is from people who aren’t even avid readers. This made me want to give it a shot. I also saw the newer film adaptation of the book having gone with friends who wanted to see it. Again, not a book or story I would have originally found on my own, which is another reason I am actually interested in reading it. Exploration is good.

The Books of Earthsea

EarthseaThis one is technically a series, but my wife gifted me a one-volume illustrated edition which I am counting as one book for the purposes of my arbitrary theme of reading long books. I enjoy Le Guin and this series is very popular. It will be interesting to experience it and create my own opinion about the story.

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas ShruggedThis one I’ve been meaning to read for a while. Actually, this book first came on my radar when I found out that a video game I really like was basically a critique of this book. The game was Bioshock and it remains a series I go back to from time to time. I know Ayn Rand can be difficult to read, but I am determined to eventually read this book. I’ve heard The Fountainhead by Rand is good and I may give that one a shot too.

Infinite Jest

Infinite JestI really don’t know much about this book except I’ve read little by David Foster Wallace and I want to read this book of his. I may try more of his work prior to tackling this larger volume, but this is considered one of his better works, so I feel drawn to trying it out first.

These five alone may be more than enough reading for some people, but I hope I do get around to them after I finish this degree. Below are a few others I’ve considered that fit the bill, but I am not as gung ho about getting to them anytime soon.

The Stand

The Stand Book CoverA friend of mine, who is a Stephen King fan, really enjoyed this book and has been wanting me to read it. I tried once a while back but couldn’t get into it at the time. I have read Chuck Wendig’s book Wanderers, which he calls his tribute to King’s The Stand. Both have somewhat similar premises but I may eventually get around to this one.

Don Quixote

Don QuixoteThis is one of those classics that you think you should read or people tell you that you should read. I really became interested in reading it when it appeared in the show The Newsroom written by Aaron Sorkin and staring Jeff Daniels. I was curious as to the context it played with the show and figured it was something I may want to read eventually anyway.

The Foundation Trilogy

The Foundation Trilogy Book CoverTechnically this is a trilogy that I have in one volume and therefore am counting it as one book (and, yes, technically there are five books but two were written well after the original trilogy so I am only including the original for now). This science fiction story by Isaac Asimov is one that has been on my list for some time and I will eventually get to it. Even as a trilogy it doesn’t quite meet the length of the other books in this list, but it comes close.

May Reading Lineup

I have not been reading lately and I have definitely missed holding a book in my hands. This recent dry spell was directly caused by my graduate courses and other obligations on my time and attention. I am happy to say I have a break, albeit a short one, before my next set of courses begin and I am planning to get back into reading with hopefully no lengthy disruptions like the past several weeks.

I grabbed a few new books just yesterday and they are going to be my return to the lovely world of reading. I figured I’d share my current reading lineup.

Fugitive Telemetry

Fugitive Telemetry book cover

Fugitive Telemetry is the sixth entry into The Murderbot Diaries which I greatly enjoy. This novella came out just last week and is going to be my first book since my unintended hiatus. You will likely see a book recommendation for this one in the next week or so.

Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary book cover

Project Hail Mary is Andy Weir’s new book that released just this week. He is best known for his first book, The Martian, and I am excited to dive into this one despite not knowing much about it aside from the fact it centers around a lone astronaut who (maybe) finds an ally in an alien.

The Library at Mount Char

Library at Mount Char book cover

The Library at Mount Char has been on my list for some time and I was planning on reading it before my studies consumed my time. I plan to read it after the two books listed above. I can’t remember exactly which author discussed this book or when I first heard of it, but it sounded like something I would really enjoy.

So there we go. My short lineup of books I hope to read this month. I will be starting Fugitive Telemetry today and breaking this unnatural and unholy lack of reading with a story I’m sure I will love as it is Murderbot. Again, you may see me recommending these books as I finish them (should I like them enough to do so). My lack of posts on this blog are also a consequence of recent time constraints and I hope to get back into the rhythm of reading and posting.

Happy Reading.

Reading Challenge

I’ve been participating in a reading challenge at work. One of my favorite things about working at a university is being able to participate in campus activities geared toward faculty, staff, and students, and meeting so many interesting people with specialties in different areas. This challenge recently made me think about my reading habits and what reading means to me and others. The challenge encourages participants to read books that will promote inclusivity and diverse perspectives. The challenge is split into months and cover the following categories:

  • Read a book about Activism, Advocacy, Antiracism, or Allyship
  • Read a book featuring a character with a [dis]Ability – to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Read a book in any genre by a Native, First Nations, or Indigenous Author
  • Read an LGBTQ+ book, graphic novel, memoir, or comic featuring an LGBTQ+ character and/or written by an LGBTQ+ author
  • Read a book written by or about a refugee
  • Read a book written by an author of color
  • Read a book written by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse
  • Read an #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America

I have completed 7 of the 8 reading challenges on this list and will be reading the final one before the challenge is done. The recent self-reflection made me realize that although I read a lot and try to read widely, I also fail to venture into certain literary areas or pick up books that would be good for me to experience.

I am absolutely a big fan of science fiction and fantasy and many of my reading decisions sway toward this area. I read “classics” and memoirs and books on science and I try to remain open to all types of books. Granted, my reading list is forever long, but I couldn’t help but notice that there are many areas I should be including. I did take advantage of a few of these challenges to read authors I’d always intended to read but hadn’t yet picked up their work (like Octavia Butler and Viet Thanh Nguyen), but a few of the challenges above steered me toward a few new areas.

Reading, for me, is an enjoyable experience that lets me escape into wondrous worlds, learn new things, and meet great characters. Reading, especially fiction, is a great way to build empathy. I consider myself a highly empathetic person and I credit my enthusiasm for reading as a part of this. That being said, I think I was a bit surprised that my reading habits do often tend to stay on the same highway. One or two challenges above made me make a few pitstops I wouldn’t normally have made, and I realized I need to maybe make more pitstops on my journey through life. I will always read what I love to read, of course, but I think some great experiences may be waiting for me outside my standard fields of interest, and these experiences will likely make me a better person. To put it simply, I realized I need to read more widely than I have in the past. Libraries are great for trying new things.

I hope you examine your own reading habits and perhaps try a few books outside your own comfort bubble. Perhaps you will try some of the challenges above. Maybe you will find a new favorite arena to explore.

Happy Reading.

My Favorite Books This Year (2020)

2020 has been a wild, scary year, but as always, books remain a great way to escape, learn, grow, and find enjoyment. I decided to put a quick “year in review” together of what I read and enjoyed. A few of these items I’m glad to say were on my list of series to read at the beginning of the year. There is just under 3 weeks left of the year, which is plenty of time to read a few more (which I will be doing), but I figured I had plenty to put into a list.

Murderbot Series

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
I started the year off going through the first several installments of The Murderbot Diaries. The newest released in May this year, Network Effect, and the next comes out this coming April titled Fugitive Telemetry. This series is simply fantastic and I am glad I now have it on my shelf.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew QuickThe Silver Linings Playbook book cover
One of my more recent reads, I really enjoyed this one and go into detail about my thoughts on book versus movie on my post about the book.

Talking to StrangersTalking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell’s newest book delves into how we perceive those we do not know and how a few recent events escalated the way they did. Touching on some dark material while illuminating on how we interact to others subconsciously, this book is a great insight into how we move through society and, unfortunately, how we fall into situations of miscommunication.

The Inheritance GamesThe Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The great start to a mystery I happily compare to Knives Out, one of my favorite films of yesteryear. Filled with intrigue and questionable family dynamics, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De ZoetThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
This was one that has been on my shelf for some time. I picked it up after enjoying Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas novel and wanted to read more of his work. I was surprised with this one, but pleasantly so. The story was much different than expected though the prose was beautiful and enticing.

Every Tool's A HammerEvery Tool’s A Hammer by Adam Savage
An enlightening look into the life of a main Mythbuster, this book was a great insight into building and what goes into creating some of the iconic films we all know and many love. I learned a lot about craft and making things and I really enjoyed Adam’s passion for what he does (even when things don’t turn out quite like he wanted). It was great to get to know more about him.

All The Light We Cannot SeeAll The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This book came as a recommendation and it was a beautiful book to read. The story was interesting as it covered some of the magical, invisible experiences of our world while centered around young characters trying to make it through World War II.

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
A series on my list and an author I had yet to read. This series opened me to Wolfe’s work and I am a fan. I enjoyed this four book series and am about to finish a collection of short stories. I wish I would have read him sooner, but I am glad to have found his work regardless. His prose is not for everyone and I liken many of his stories to a veil with an entire universe hiding beneath. I intend to read more, and I will not be surprised if he becomes one of my favorite authors.

Books of the New Sun

Mythologies

Norse MythologyI’ve always loved mythology. My favorite has always been Norse Mythology. I recently began listening to Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I’ve read it before but was in the mood for some stories and figured what was better than to have Neil read them himself. It was the perfect choice, and it got me thinking about different mythologies and some I want to learn more about.

Greek & Roman

MythosI know a decent amount about Greek and Roman mythology mainly because they are closely intertwined, taught in school, and likely the most popular mythologies in the world. Everyone knows of Zeus and Poseidon and Hercules and the many others within these pantheons. There have been dozens of movies made based on these stories and characters, but there is still much I’d like to learn. I’ve read The Odyssey but have yet to read The Illiad. I really want to read Stephen Fry’s retelling of the Greek myths in his book titled Mythos. I have a copy and just have to take the time.

Egyptian

Egyptian mythology may be my second or third favorite. I’ve always liked these characters since I was young, but I realized I don’t know too much about their actual history. I hope to find some texts that will give me a better background in this area. Ironically I can’t think of any at the moment.

Celtic

I know very little about these mythologies aside from a few characters and I only recently discovered them. I definitely want to know more and I did pick up one book to help me do so. Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis.

Chinese – Japanese – Hindu

Another few mythologies I know very little about aside from a few characters or names. I mainly learned of these characters through shows or video games. I used to play a game called Smite where you played as mythological gods from different pantheons. It was a lot of fun to play with friends and I really liked learning about the different mythologies and characters through the lore provided in the game even if it was brief.

Maori

Kia Ora. I lived in New Zealand for a brief time and was lucky enough to learn a bit about the Maori culture and their creation myths including Papatuanuku and Ranginui. Learning these stories increased my interest in mythologies around the world because there is so much and many of them have similarities despite the cultures never being in contact with each other.

Norse

Norse MythologyBack to my favorite. Of course there have also been modern retellings of these myths as well. Marvel comics (and the MCU) have made several characters popular despite only key elements remaining true to the myths themselves. Thor is my favorite Avenger even though he is quite different in the myths. I’m going through Neil Gaiman’s recent retellings of these myths. I’ve also read Myths of the Norsemen by H. A. Guerber and Snorri Sturleson’s Prose Edda. I still need to read the Poetic Edda and there are surely many stories in this pantheon I have yet to discover. I will eventually.

What are some of your favorite myths? Do you have some recommendations for me to learn more about some of the pantheons I mentioned? Or perhaps some that I did not? I’d love to learn more so let me know with a comment or message me on Twitter at @YarberWrites.