Sunday, October 17, 2021

Reading for 2022

I like books.

Or, I used to. I've always defined myself as a "reader," but actual reading has been in short supply for a while. Initially the transition to writing made it (perhaps ironically) harder to read fiction -- I think because I was reading things from this new, highly-critical perspective, and it prevented me from being absorbed by the fiction. For a while I was afraid that I'd lost the magic permanently.

Then my child was growing, and what little time I might have had for reading was spent either writing, or participating in workshops, or with my family in other pursuits, etc. And then, when I would read, I often got sucked into some non-fiction, for one reason or another. For the last couple of years, I've been homeschooling my child, and that's led me to read a number of works of history and etc., to help remind myself of the things I ought to know, to pass them along. And no mistake, I love it. I love history.

But it isn't fiction.

So here I am, ready to read once more. And because I cannot have a slice of cake, but must stuff the whole thing in my mouth, I have a plan to read... 54 books next year. (Which represents 52 books I've never read before, and 2 more that I have.)

Here they are:

It being October, I was initially inspired to attempt something like this when I stumbled over several "favorite horror books" lists. I started writing down suggestions, which eventually became... this. So a ton of horror to kick this thing off.

1. The Ruins by Scott Smith
2. Ghost Story by Peter Straub
3. Blindness by Jose Saramago
4. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
5. The Books of Blood by Clive Barker
6. Funland by Richard Laymon

I've never read anything by Clive Barker, yet, which seems a bit of an oversight. (...a theme that shall develop throughout this list.) And Ghost Story I've meant to read forever, given that Stephen King has namedropped it in the past.

Speaking of Mr. King, it's a life ambition of mine to read his corpus (or corpses, as the case may be), so a couple of his earlier works that I've somehow missed:

7. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
8. Cujo by Stephen King

And I've never yet read anything by his kid

9. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Filling in a few more gaps in my literacy with

10. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
11. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

And a return to the author of Hyperion, which I enjoyed long ago. I've heard he's a great horror writer, too

12. Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

One of the subgenres I've read about in these lists, which will be reflected above, presently, and later, is "extreme horror," by which I take to mean lots of unpleasantness. Frankly, I don't expect to enjoy it, but I've always set the most stock in my own, direct experience. I mean, I've subjected myself to Finnegans Wake; I can stomach anything.

With that hubris in mind

13. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
14. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
15. Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
16. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
17. Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
18. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
19. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Lest this sound too stuffy or sanitized, some works that I think veer a little further from mainstream respectability...

20. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
21. The Bighead by Edward Lee
22. Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite
23. The Ressurectionist by Wrath James White
24. The Troop by Nick Cutter

I plan on regretting a few of these decisions, I'm sure, and maybe not the ones I most expect. But if I'm not taking chances, what am I doing? Besides, I plan on learning from the bad at least as much as from the good -- or so I shall tell myself.

Now a little SF/Fantasy to lighten the mood, which I've roughly divided into "classic" and "modern" (but don't hold me to that, or anything).

25. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
26. Ringworld by Larry Niven
27. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
28. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick
29. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
30. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

All classics, so far as I'm aware, and I've never read a single one of 'em. So I figure I can either sit here embarrassed or do something about it. These then must be the "moderns" (mostly so I could split 'em, six and six -- I'm sure they're equally "classic" in their own right, or will be):

31. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
32. Redshirts by John Scalzi
33. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
34. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
35. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
36. A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

In searching for titles to add, I came upon a video talking about peoples' favorite books. There's nothing particular in this, but it's as good a starting point as anything, and so

37. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
38. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
39. Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
40. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
41. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
42. One-Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
43. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
44. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
45. A Secret History by Donna Tartt
46. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

And two taken from there that I've already read, but years ago, such that I think could stand revisiting:

47. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
48. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Finally, to round this out

49.  The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
50. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
51. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
52. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
53. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
54. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

And now that I see this all written out, it looks like... a lot. It is likely, at the very least, that I shall have to call an audible or two along the way. But let's see what happens! If nothing else, the daunting prospect of climbing a mountain like this excites me -- and maybe that alone is worth the challenge, whatever else results.

Anyways, I'll start off by letting myself cheat. If I can wrap up my current projects (SPQR by Mary Beard and 19Q4 another novel by list author Haruki Murakami, which I've been reading off-and-on for a very long time), I'll let myself get a small head start. I suspect I shall need it.

Otherwise, I'll report back soon on what happens. Or maybe in another five years. We shall see!

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