Friday, 2 January 2009

The 2009 Reading Challenge

This'll be the third year I've done a reading challenge. I never intended them to be an ongoing annual thing. But they've been fun so far (well, mostly), so why not?

In 2007, I reread my favourite science fiction novels: Undercover Aliens, AE van Vogt; The Ophiuchi Hotline, John Varley; Stations of the Tide, Michael Swanwick; Where Time Winds Blow, Robert Holdstock; Soldier, Ask Not, Gordon R Dickson; Kairos, Gwyneth Jones; Against A Dark Background, Iain M Banks; Metrophage, Richard Kadrey; Coelestis, Paul Park; Dune, Frank Herbert; Take Back Plenty, Colin Greenland; and Dhalgren, Samuel R Delany.

In 2008, I read (or tried to read) classic novels by authors I'd not read before: The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith; From Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway; Kim, Rudyard Kipling; A Question of Upbringing, Anthony Powell; Orlando, Virginia Woolf; Nostromo, Joseph Conrad; The Garden Party & Other Stories, Katherine Mansfield; My Family & Other Animals, Gerald Durrell; The Jewel in the Crown, Paul Scott; The Good Soldier, Ford Madox Ford; On The Road, Jack Kerouac; and The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand.

For 2009, I'm going to reread twelve science fiction classics. These are books I've not read for a long time - decades, in fact, in several cases. The list is a little idiosyncratic, for good reason. First, my taste in books is a little idiosyncratic. Second, I have very low opinions of some books which are considered sf classics, such as Asimov's Foundation trilogy. Third, some sf classics I've already reread in the past few years - for example, I reread Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun last year (see here), the aforementioned Dune in 2007 (see here), Bester's The Stars My Destination a few years before that, and likewise Pohl's Gateway... And finally, some on the list might only be considered minor classics, but I wanted to reread them anyway. So there.

The list goes like this (in order of year of publication):

I'll not be reading them in the above order - I'll just pick and choose what I feel like reading each month. Quite a few I'll admit I'm looking forward to. One or two I suspect might prove a chore (that'll be Stranger in a Strange Land and Second Stage Lensman, then). But you never know. And some might turn out to be less fun than I remember. But that's the nature of these sort of things. And part of the fun, too. As before, each month I'll write about the book I've read.


Carl V. said...

Looks like a very fun challenge. I love seeing The Stainless Steel Rat on there, that has been a favorite since I discovered it on my uncle's bookshelf as a young boy.

I read the Foundation series last year for the first time and was pretty blown away by it. I can certainly see why it is a series that can generate lots of differing opinions. For me it was not at all what I expected and I was really sucked into the story and ended up being very pleased with the experience of reading it.

Ringworld and Rendezvous with Rama are both books I would like to get to this year. I am currently rereading The Stars My Destination, which I read for the first time a couple of years ago. Bester is the man!

Ian Sales said...

The Stars My Destination is certainly a book I'd happily describe as a "classic". But I'm apparently in a minority by hating Bester's other classic novel, The Demolished Man.