I am loving the Goodreads Reading Challenge. At the start of the year, you set a target number of books, then spend the rest of the year reading.
I don't like the idea of needing formal challenge to get shit done, but I have to admit - it's working. A couple years ago, I went through a phase of not reading much at all. I grew up a bookworm, and don't know why I stopped. No time, maybe. Life distractions.
But then I signed up for the challenge and my competitive drive awakened. It rekindled my love for books and stories. I felt free again to be led down the garden path by authors both great and ordinary.
From this, I've learned reading is just as much as habit as it is a passion. Sometimes all you need is an obsessive jumpstart to get in the game. Find some superb books and don't feel silly or guilty for enjoying them.
I'd like to share a few of the bloody awesome books I've read over the last few years. I'm not a book hipster - most of these are old hat. But they're nice old hats I totally recommend. :)
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. I was hesitant at first because it's a long book. At 561 pages, it's almost double what I'd pick up without hesitation. But man, I'm glad I took the plunge. This book was perfection. The language, the symbolism, the layers - poetic. Lovely, lovely sci-fi and I'm so excited about the TV series.
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. If I had to sum this book up in one word, it would be: breathtaking. The world is magnificent and the pace full-on. There's naïveté in the science, which only adds to the charm. Just thinking about it makes me want to read it again.
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. As the second book in the Ender series, this won't make much sense unless you've read Ender's Game, which is also a fantastic book (I cried every couple of chapters). Be warned, though, it's quite different to Ender's Game. There are no space battles, for one. It's more like a murder mystery that also poses philosophical and ethical questions. A thoughtful, introspective read.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick. There are remarkable differences between this book and the Blade Runner film. The world here is far more confronting and bleak. The language and pathos drew me in, and I felt more sympathy for the Deckard of the book. If you liked the movie and don't mind slightly depressing sci-fi, add this one to your reading list.
The Forest by Justin Groot. I picked this up on recommendation from a friend who followed each chapter as it came out on reddit. The storytelling is so good, it more than makes up for the blue-balls story. I reserve judgement on this front, though. The author is supposedly writing a sequel, which should hopefully answer some of the questions left open.
The Martian by Andy Weir. A scientific thought experiment adventure on Mars. I was hooked. This was one of those books that kept me up way past my bedtime cos I just couldn't put it down. The movie was good too, but don't let the Hollywood-ness of it deter you from giving this book a chance. I'd also like to applaud the author for nailing the nerd banter. Reading it grated on me just as much as hearing it in real life - I mean that in a good way!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Super nostalgia romp. I feel like this novel was written for older gamers like me. After reading, I promptly got myself a pair of Chucks. :) The language style isn't my favourite, but the story was just fun. Read this book for fun. Enjoy it. Reminisce about the 80s; the innocence and simplicity of it all.
Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan. This was a surprise. I thought I was in for something sciencey and robotic, but it turned out to be an intense graphic noir type story. Super sexy and thrilling with visceral descriptions of things. Brooding detective, violence, rich assholes, grimey underbelly, hotness and heaviness that are totally decent plot elements - no regrets, really. :3
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. OK, let's not sci-fi all the things. This is a very down-to-earth, human story about a fisherman. You're right, it doesn't sound very interesting, but the storytelling is compelling, and ahh, what can I say. I bawled my eyes out at the end. Such a simple story, but it touched something deep in me. We are all the old man; we are all alone in our own seas.
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I couldn't go without mentioning this one. I love a good jaunt through ancient times, and identified quite strongly with Sophie's at-times indignant cogitation of philosophy and her life. It's a nice little read if you enjoy philosophy and history and allegory.
I'm currently ahead of schedule for my 20 book target this year. Right now, I'm reading A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony. Everyone's warned me it will be terrible, and so far it already kind of is, but I don't care. I'm reading it to get in the right headspace for Companions of Xanth because puns are awesome and I've already decided this thing is happening, so hush!
With that, I leave you. I have to go read this book that isn't hilariously punny yet. Good night!