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.

Fugitive Telemetry

Fugitive Telemetry book coverFugitive Telemetry is the newest release in The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells. This series is honestly just a lot of fun. I did find out/realize that this is technically the sixth book in the series as Network Effect is considered a standalone novel, so despite it being a fantastic Murderbot adventure, it isn’t included in the series as progressing the overall story of Murderbot. This means the series itself now has six novellas, which are quick and fun reads, and one longer book to keep the fun going.

Is it weird to say a series called Murderbot is fun? Not at all if you are familiar with the story, or rather the character, that is Murderbot.

Fugitive Telemetry takes place on Preservation Station and our not-so-friendly Murderbot finds itself in the middle of a murder investigation where it must interact with humans to solve the mystery.

Basically, this installment is like a Sherlock Holmes episode but with Murderbot. It is an overall solid entry to the series that will leave you once again wanting more. If this is the case, the Murderbot short story “Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory” that was originally a pre-order bonus for Network Effect was recently made available at Tor.com. Read it at your leisure. I, for one, hope this series continues for a long time and will be happy with as many Murderbot adventures Martha Wells will give us.

Happy Reading.

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.

On Gene Wolfe

Gene WolfeI first discovered Gene Wolfe through one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, who wrote about Gene in a collection of nonfiction called A View From the Cheap Seats. I had not yet read any of Gene’s work when he passed away in 2019. His passing prompted me to finally read his work and I started with his more popular work The Book of the New SunIt was through this four book saga that I grew to love his writing. I later picked up a collection of short fiction title The Best of Gene Wolfe and I knew that he was going to become a favorite of mine.

His writing is unique in a way that seems to tell a story that is just a glimpse into a larger universe vastly different from our own (or perhaps in a very different time than our own). The Fifth Head of Cerberus is a great example of this and is a short story that can be found in the collection mentioned above or in other collections. Though this is something that I really enjoy about his writing, I can see how it could put others off of it because there are many instances where the reader may feel like they don’t know much of what is happening though the characters do because they are inhabitants of that universe. Much is inferred from his prose and perhaps that is one aspect that draws me to it. There is a mystery that can unravel the more attention to give it, but it will never quite reveal itself to you in its entirety.

As a gift to myself (as a reward for losing weight and getting healthier0, I recently purchased a Folio Society print of The Book of the New Sun which is a beautiful edition and includes an introduction by Neil Gaiman himself.

It’s a little difficult to discuss how his work has impacted me because, much like his stories, it touches on aspects that I am not overtly certain of myself. I don’t have any personal stories in relation to him or his work like other authors in this series. I simply enjoy his work. I wish I had known about him and his work earlier then perhaps I would have such stories. From what little I do know, he seemed like a down-to-earth guy who enjoyed life and sharing joy. I will likely learn much more about him as an author the more I delve into his stories. All I can really say is that I look forward to reading more of his work and likely rereading it for his work has aspects that I hope to one day instill in my own writing.

Ready Player Two

Ready Player Two Book COver

I’ll admit I wasn’t sure how there could be a sequel to Ready Player One, but Ernest Cline wrote one and I read it. Ready Player Two was released a few months ago and the story picks up the week or so after the ending of the first book. I went into this book with little expectations because unfortunately I saw several comments stating this sequel wasn’t too great, but of course I wanted to form my own opinion, which I am posting here (spoiler free). I have mixed feelings about this story but I did enjoy it and I read it quickly.

First, the beginning was a bit slow. Starting with what I consider two prologues explaining a little of the aftermath of book one and then going into the setup for what becomes the main storyline of this book, I felt it took a while for the action to get going. I also felt like this longer setup really altered one of the main characters and made them less likeable, or perhaps made me re-evaluate this character because I don’t remember them acting or being this way in the first book. I may need to revisit the first book to see if this is the case, which may alter my enjoyment of the first novel which I really thought was great (hence my uncertainty about a sequel).

Once the story gets going though, it reads like the first book with exciting events happening at a quick pace. This book is, not surprisingly, chock full of more 1980s pop culture references. I admit there were a few areas where my interest in the particular pop culture wasn’t too high and it made the events of those scenes less enjoyable, but it was still engaging and I’m sure those who are fans would get a kick out of it just like I enjoyed other scenes encased in pop-culture worlds inside the OASIS I would love to visit. The downside of these references is the blatant absence of any pop culture outside of the 1980s. I understand the main creators of the OASIS were obsessed with their own era, but this book is supposed to take place in the 2050s or 2060s. There are a few references to more modern pop culture in this book which may be why the lack of any other non-1980 references is so apparent. Also, the few, modern pop culture references are kind of jabs at a specific storyline that basically is the plot structure of this very book, which is either ironic or slightly disappointing.

A few characters that are introduced kind of become sideline characters when I was hoping they would become more prominent, but this story centers around those of the previous book. Again, the overall story I enjoyed and I liked a few places Cline went with the story because they were unexpected and daring considering the content and the modern times we live in, but some of the topics he chose to focus on are the reason I have mixed feelings.

One reason I am recommending the book despite the mixed feelings is that the story keeps you interested and wanting to know what happens next. There is very little I would call predictable and there are a few things I could discuss in more detail but would bring in a few spoiler-related content, so I will refrain and have these conversations individually. After seeing the less-exciting comments about the book, I was afraid that this sequel was riding on the success of the first book and movie of that book. I am happy to say that it does stand on its own. I understand why some fans would not like this sequel though I think many will like it. There are merits for all arguments for both sides. It is impossible to please everyone.

I think if you liked Ready Player One, then you are probably going to read Ready Player Two regardless of what I or anyone else says, which is a great thing in itself and I encourage that. Perhaps you are reading this recommendation after having read this book to avoid potential spoilers much like I refrained from reading any reviews for the same reason. I hope you enjoy or enjoyed the book, or at least felt like you got something out of it that you weren’t expecting.

Happy Reading.