Start of the Year Reading List

Well, it’s a new year and we are already a few weeks into it. Unfortunately, I spent the first week or so sick and recovering which gave me plenty of time to think about what I want to get accomplished this year. I am maintaining my 50 books per year reading challenge and have already finished three books so far which is a pretty good start. I am technically halfway through two books as well but I will talk about those in a bit.

I plan on getting some writing done this year (finally) as I was unofficially on a writing hiatus as I worked on my MBA. Now that the degree is finished, no more excuses. I’m really excited to attend a convention later this year which I have already registered for. It will be my first time attending WorldCon and I hope that the world is in a much better place and events like this stop being cancelled, postponed, and we are free and clear to actually spend time in groups. I would hate to cancel yet another outing, but safety first especially now that I have a little one that is always on my mind.

But this post is about a reading list for the beginning of the year. So far, I have read We Watch You by N.S. Ford which was a great mystery/thriller. I just finished Negotiating with the Dead by Margaret Atwood where she talks about the craft of writing and more. I am halfway through Blindness by Jose Saramago. I have to admit that this is the first time I’ve deliberately put a book down and taken time away from reading it. There was a scene that was really disturbing. I’ve not finished books before due to lack of interest or put it away to try again another time. This book I do plan on finishing but had to take time away because the disturbing scene in question just put me in a bad state and I needed to give myself time to recover before going back to it. The book is interesting and I think is good overall, and I may end up writing a recommendation for it if that turns out to be true.

The other book I’m technically halfway through is the Sandman comic series which I purchased last year in the Omnibus editions. There are three volumes, approximately 1000 pages each, that contain all the Sandman comics and extras. I am halfway through the second omnibus volume and will get back around to finishing the series. I think I paused this one because I came to the end of a story arc and life got busy and all that jazz. I compare it as the equivalent of pausing a show at the end of a season with the full intention of finishing the series. It was a good stopping point, but I plan to restart soon.

Pity The Reader CoverWith all that out of the way, I will now get to the few books I aim to read in the next few months. I just started Pity the Reader by Suzanne McConnell & Kurt Vonnegut. This book is primarily Kurt Vonnegut’s discussion of the craft of writing and more, but it was compiled and written by Suzanne McConnell who was a student, peer, and lifelong friend of Vonnegut’s. I look forward to digging into this one.

Kokoro book coverNext, I plan to read Kokoro by Natsume Soseki. I came across this book randomly and it caught my attention. It was first published in 1914, two years before Soseki passed away. Kokoro translates roughly to mean “the heart of things” and this book, at about 180 pages and told in three parts, is supposedly his most popular work. I had never heard of Soseki before stumbling across this book but I may explore more of his work if I enjoy this one.

Rendezvous with Rama book cover folio society editionI also want to read Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. The only book of Clarke’s that I’ve read so far is 2001: A Space Odyssey and this one came on my radar when it was announced it would be adapted into a film by director Denis Villeneuve who directed the recent adaptation of Dune which I enjoyed. I’ve been meaning to read more of Clarke’s work and now this will prepare me for the film as well whenever it comes out.

So these three are what I aim to read in the next several weeks (I’ll probably finish Blindness as well). Of course life continues to be busy and trying to navigate our crazy world can distract from enjoying our hobbies. I hope you find some time for reading or whatever you enjoy doing. If you can’t find time, then make some time. You’ll likely thank yourself later for doing so.

Happy Reading.

8 More Short Story Collections

I recently started a short story collection and thought it might be a good time to provide a list of several collections I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’m not sure why, but with fall coming up, I feel like it is a good time for short stories. Perhaps it is because I am starting my final few classes of (probably) my final academic degree, and short story collections are excellent for busier times. You can focus on coursework, or work-work if your job gets busier this time of year, but still fit in some reading and try new stories. They are also great because you can pick them up and put them down easily without losing your place. You can slowly go through a collection over months or years, or read them all in a weekend. You may love some but not like others, but there always another new one on the next page. So here is a shoutout to an underappreciated form with several collections I enjoy.

This is “eight more” list because I posted “8 Short Story Collections” earlier last year. Feel free to look at that list as well.

Shadows of the New Sun book coverFirst, the collection I just started is Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe. I found this gem at my library’s annual book sale having never known it existed before. I am a big fan of Gene Wolfe and this collection features two short stories of his and stories written by other writers who were influenced or had personally known Gene Wolfe. Each story has a short description of how the author knew Gene and how he influenced their writing careers or personal lives. I’m only a few stories in, but several other authors I like have stories in this collection including Neil Gaiman, Joe Haldeman, and Timothy Zahn to name a few.

Neil GaimanSpeaking of Neil Gaiman, who has several collections of stories, he also had The Neil Gaiman Reader come out roughly a year ago which contains many of his shorter works and excerpts of several of his novels. It is a great collection especially for those who have not yet read his work and want to try it out.

Stories of Your LifeNext, and I’m sure I’ve recommended this before, is The Story of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. Chiang has become one of my favorite, recent science fiction writers. As far as I am aware, he only has two short fiction collections currently published, but I eagerly look forward to more of his work.

Philip K Dick Classic StoriesI feel somewhat obliged to add Philip K. Dick in this list as well since I’ve read several collections of short stories by him. Some are absolutely absurd and others fall more into classic pulp fiction, but many are fantastic and make you think of the world in a different light. For this one, I will choose The Eye of the Sybil and Other Classic Stories

Cathedral book coverNext is another author known more for his short fiction than his other work, Raymond Carver. Though I really like “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” which is the title story of a collection, I’ve already recommended that collection before, so I’m recommending the collection Cathedral whose title story is also a great read.

In the Garden of North American Martyrs book coverAlso known for his shorter form is Tobias Wolff, who is one of my favorite short story writers. I am recommending his collection In the Garden of North American Martyrs. I like almost every story by Wolff and the title story of this collection is definitely near the top of the list if I had to rank his stories in order.

Interpreter of Maladies book coverThe Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is the next in the list. It has a been a long time since I’ve read this collection and my memory does not serve me well outside of the fact that it was a great read. I am even beginning to doubt I finished the entire collection but that only means I need to re-read it soon to better appreciate it.

The Best of Gene Wolfe Book CoverLastly, and returning to Gene Wolfe, is The Best of Gene Wolfe which is a great collection that exhibits many of his “best” works. I enjoyed most of these stories and it was definitely fun to read more of his work.

I hope that you give some of these a chance if you are not a regular short story reader. At the very least, I hope you go out and read a short story sometime soon. You can find many online for free, including my own which you can find here on my blog (I recommend Children of Changyang Mountain).

July & August Reading Lineup

I ended up finishing my May reading lineup in June, so I figured I’d just give myself some extra time to get through these books. Luckily, I am finishing my current graduate courses and will have a six week break before my next few classes start up, so I should have some more time to read.

Castle in the Air Book CoverI am currently reading Castle in the Sky by Diana Wynne Jones and hope to finish it up soon. This is a companion novel to Howl’s Moving Castle which is a favorite of mine. I am about halfway through and there haven’t been any connections to Howl’s yet, so I’m not sure how it is considered a “companion” novel just yet.

House of Many Ways Book CoverMy next read is actually the sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle which is titled House of Many Ways. I decided to read Castle in the Sky first because it was published before House of Many Ways and I just decided to read these books in order of publication. I will likely write a recommendation for these books and, if I do, I may do one post for both books dependent upon how much they have in common.

After these, I’m not entirely sure what I will read next. I typically pick up whatever I am in the mood for, but I think I may begin the Sandman comic series by Neil Gaiman. I recently acquired the omnibus editions of this series, and I have been meaning to check it out. I don’t often read comics (which is somewhat surprising considering my interests), but I have heard a lot about this series and know many people who really enjoy it. I honestly don’t know much about the overall story. I am a fan of Neil’s work though and I’m certain it will be great. I may even begin this series alongside the Diana Wynne Jones books. I typically don’t read more than one book at a time. I’ll sometimes read one fiction and one non-fiction book simultaneously, but I like to focus on one story. For some reason I don’t think it will bother me since Sandman is in comic format. We will see.

Sandman Omnibus Editions

I hope your are having some fun reading adventures this summer. I am actually volunteering for my local library’s annual book sale next month which I am looking forward to especially since it was cancelled this past year. I’ll likely acquire many more books that will sit on my shelves for a bit before I get to them.

Happy Reading.

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.