Reading Challenge: 20 in ’20

I love me a reading challenge.  I rarely finish them but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy trying.  And sometimes they do help motivate me.

I’m borrowing this challenge from the Captain at The Captain’s Quarters.  I’m using it to help me catch up on books and authors I should have already read a very, very long time ago.  I listed the number of ratings each book has on GoodReads after the title and author.  I thought it would be fun to see how many others have read them before me.  Spoiler: Eight of them have more than 100,000 ratings, and all but one have more than 10,000 ratings.

Simpsons Shame

These are books that seem destined (or maybe already are) considered to be classics of the genre.  Books that for some reason or other I keep putting off.  Maybe the blurb doesn’t speak to me the way I want it to or I already attempted them multiple times (I’m looking at you The Name of the Wind) and just never finished, but didn’t dislike enough to officially DNF.

11-22-63 Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King : 386,635 – This is the oldest book on my TBR.  I own it.  It was one of the first I added to GoodReads back in 2015.  I think it’s the time travel that’s putting me off.  I realized a couple years ago time travel and all it’s wonderfully mind bending paradoxes sort of puts me off.

The Name of the Wind Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss : 642,245 – I’ve started listening to this multiple times.  I even made it like halfway through on a road trip to Ohio once.  It’s just so long.  Also- I’m putting it back on Rothfuss since there’s no third book in sight.

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Spakowski Witcher 3

Blood of Elves (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski : 62,301 – I was reading these before the show was a thing.  Right after I sank like 500 hours into the very wonderful Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video game.  I don’t know why I keep putting it off.  I was excited for this too since it’s the first full length novel set in the Witcherverse.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson : 83,654 – This one is just intimidating because of it’s length.  And the fact that it’s hard science fiction.  Which always goes over my head.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells : 45,161 – There’s a lot of Murderbot love circulating out there.  But I heard that Murderbot likes to watch TV (who doesn’t?) and I became a little concerned it wasn’t going to be what I wanted it to be.  My expectations have been reset, which is a good thing, but also caused me to drag my feet in picking it up.

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles #1) by Bernard Cornwell : 34,056 – I don’t even have a good reason for not having read this one.  Favorite author.  Favorite subject.  Good reviews.  It was actually pretty hard to find (I wanted to purchase it and no bookstore ever seemed to have it).  I did finally track down a copy, I just need to make the time.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey : 142,112 – Why are there so many books in this series?  The thought of reading all nine is a little daunting, but I know this is well loved by several readers I trust.  And hey- maybe by the time I finish the series will be complete.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson 1

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1) by Steven Erikson : 82,296 – I’ve heard this book comes with a steep learning curve, which is why I’ve put it off for so long. But now that I’m thinking of it, the same could be and has been said of two of my other favorites: Too Like the Lightning and Ninefox Gambit.  So who knows.  Maybe it’ll be a surprise favorite.

The Shining and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King : 1,027,773  & 165,444 – I wanted to read both before seeing the new Doctor Sleep movie (and maybe The Shining).  I’ve started The Shining at least twice that I remember.  It’s just so darn slow.  But it’s hard to feel like a real Stephen King fan when I haven’t read it.  So.  2020 will be the year.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky : 43,448 – I started this during a bad reading slump and just never finished.  Not because it wasn’t good, I got further with this than I did any other book during that reading slump.  But somehow it’s always harder to go back to something you’ve started previously.  Anyway- this book gets lots of love in my virtual book club so it’s becoming a priority.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.jpg

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood : 207,217 – Here’s a super shameful secret.  I’ve never read a single thing Margaret Atwood.  A lot of it has to do with her attitude toward genre fiction and her insistence that she doesn’t write it.  It just feels really disrespectful to her readers, not to mention seriously out of touch.  Anyway- I don’t have much interest in The Handmaid’s Tale though I would like to check it out someday so I’m going with this one.

Malice by John Gwynne

Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen #1) by John Gwynne : 13,583 – After coming to the sad conclusion the Abercrombie is not quite what I’m looking for, I’m hoping Gwynne will fill the void.

Brian McLellan Sins of Empire

Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder #1) by Brian McClellan : 9,573 – Military Fantasy.  I realize it’s not something that everyone gets excited about, but when the action scenes are written well I think it’s probably one of my favorite subgenres.  I have high hopes for this.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb : 212,259 – She has written so much that I think I really just didn’t know where to start with Hobb.  This might not be the best place, but I already own it, so…

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson : 255,777 – I’ve never read Sanderson.  And honestly just the blurb has me cringing away in fear.  But it has all these awards and a super high rating and like everyone has read it except me… So I’m obligated, right?

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow #1) by Anthony Ryan : 66,267 – Ryan has been on my radar a long time.  I finally read something by him last year, A Pilgrimage of Swords.  It was a quick novella and not necessarily one of my favorites, but it was because I wanted more of what I’d read.  Hoping this scratches that itch.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy #1) by N.K. Jemisin : 46,482 – This series isn’t nearly as popular as Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, but I tried The Fifth Season and it just didn’t grab me the way I wanted it to.  I think the abused children sucked a lot of the joy out of it for me.  But I do like her style and I think this one might be more my speed.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi : 30,774 – Nope.  Haven’t read Scalzi either.  This is likely to be a group read for February, so I might as well read him in a group setting and see what all the fuss is about.

The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K Le Guin

The Word for World is Forest (Hainish Cycle #5) by Ursula K. Le Guin : 14,121 – I actually have read Le Guin before.  I wasn’t a huge fan of A Wizard of Earthsea – but it was a middle grade book and I don’t have a great history with YA or children’s books anyway, so I’m willing to give her another shot.  Especially knowing how well loved she is.  I picked this one to continue with because I love a good forest setting.

And there it is!  My 20 in ’20.  I’m really excited for some of these and feeling pretty hesitant on others, but either way, I hope to be more educated in my two favorite genres come 2021.  Many thanks again to the Captain for letting me tag along with my own Ports for Plunder.

Have you read any of these?  Are there any super popular books out there you haven’t read yet?

32 thoughts on “Reading Challenge: 20 in ’20

  1. This is a fantastic list! I really love this idea and I’m seriously considering joining Captain’s challenge too. There are a few books on here I’m dying to read, but first, my shameful secret is that I’ve never read Sanderson either!😝 And I’d love to read The Expanse. I’ve read and loved 11/22/63 (don’t worry about the time traveling, it’s really cool!), All Systems Red (very short so you’ll know right away if it’s for you) and Oryx and Crake. Have fun!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am really looking forward to it! I’m so glad I’m not alone in never having read Sanderson either. I feel so much shame at some of these.

      And you should definitely join! I know you have a packed ARC schedule but if you squeeze even 1 or 2 a month you can definitely get done!


  2. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms! It definitely doesn’t get enough attention, which surprises me seeing how popular The Fifth Season is – I never hear about Jemisin’s backlist, even though I liked THTK so much more. I hope you like it, though I have to mention that it’s romance-heavy. I don’t remember if it’s the main plotline in the novel or just what I remember the most (I really liked that romance) because it’s been years, but it is a big part.
    And I’m interested in seeing what you think of The Collapsing Empire – Scalzi is far more of a plot-driven author than I’m used to, so it wasn’t exactly my style, but it was a really fun read for me anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually – all of those things sound perfect for me! I like romance when it’s not shoehorned in, and I like plot driven. These comments make me super excited for both books!

      I’ve always wondered about the Jemisin thing too, because you’re right, not many talk about her backlist.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. John Gwynne is indeed a very different author from Abercrombie, so his novels might fare better with you: I love them both, but I have to say that Gwynne makes me think of a bard of old, telling you his stories as you sit around the fire and get drawn into the tale. He’s a fairly recent discovery, but I would not miss his books for the world… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting- people speak so highly of that trilogy. Especially (I’m assuming) it’s the last third of the trilogy where everything comes to a conclusion. I’d think that would be the most exciting part! I’ll definitely keep that in mind. Thanks for stopping by!


    • You know what’s weird? Is there was never a moment on the two attempts I made, that I wasn’t enjoying it. I liked the character of Kvothe- I liked the setting- I liked the tone and feel, very classic fantasy.

      I just think something about the meandering plot and the length never gave me any sense of urgency about finishing so I never stuck with it. It was never like, omg I have to see what happens next! You know whatever it is, Kvothe lived through it, since he’s telling the tale. So I don’t know, it was one of those “This is cool, but I could take it or leave it.” kinda books for me. Maybe I’l feel differently if I make it to the end.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I totally get that, the plot does meander. There are different threads going on but like all the really intriguing stuff is in the background or just once in a while between episodes of Kvothe’s life. I mean there is so much time being spent on mundane things such as Kvothe trying to cobble together tuition for school lol. I don’t know what it was about those two books that drew me in so hard, maybe the style of writing and all the little mysteries. If you attempt it again you may want to check out the readalong that did headed up by Jo Walton, you can read up to where each installment is and then check out the readalong and theories about what’s going on, that made it fun for me on my reread. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Mr. Wyrm just finished Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire and loved it, so that’s a bonus! (I haven’t read it yet, but I’m hopeful that I’ll like it too.) And I’m still up for a buddy read of 11/22/63 if you like. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages but haven’t, so could probably use the peer pressure. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Not only have I read Oryx & Crake, but I taught it one year to college freshmen, who totally dug the book and assignment I created to go with it. Here’s the thing: when I first picked up Oryx & Crake, I had to read the beginning, like three times. Let me give you a boost: you start out in an unknown place with some dude, and it doesn’t make loads of sense. But then, you travel back to the past (it’s not SUPER past — it’s actually still the future for us) and learn how the main character (he goes by “Snowman”) got where he is. I actually ended up reading the whole trilogy, but you can (and I did for a long time) just read the first book and enjoy it.

    Do you like to do read alongs? Not like a big organized event, but just read the book at the same time so we can then discuss it together on the blogs? I’d like to read The Shining myself. Would you be cool doing it some time in October? Maybe land around Halloween? I’d start now except I’m trying to get through The Brothers Karamazov, which I promised myself years ago I would read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would love to do that!! And October sounds perfect. Are you going to host? Just let me know for sure if you want to, so I can count on reading it then. This past October I wanted to read all horror and barely read two.

      And that’s awesome about Oryx and Crake! It actually sounds perfect for me since I have a tendency to love those “I have no idea what’s happening right now” books. What was the assignment you gave? I’d love to keep it in mind while reading.


      • The assignment I included with Oryx & Crake was to write a creature that is plausible that is a mix of the best of various animals. So, in Oryx & Crake they have a “pigoon,” which is a very large pig that grows organs that people then harvest for medical purposes.

        As for The Shining, I was thinking more like we simply read it around the same time so we can talk about it together. Right now I’m reading My Cousin Rachel with another blogger, and we’re both simply posting reviews on the same day and then are able to have a more fulfilling conversation. Since Stephen King is a male writer, and I only review women at GTL, I wouldn’t publish a book review on my site, but we could talk about it quite a bit together in the comments of your blog post. Does that sound like something you want to do? Basically, I just like reading books at the same time as other people so we have a good conversation. I don’t really organize anything in addition because I’ve found it’s more work than necessary.


  6. Oh man this list is full of great books, so be prepared for a long comment.
    I refuse to start The Name of the Wind until there’s a third book. I’m not willingly putting myself in another GRRM situation. I’m hoping it’s soon since I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
    I started Seveneves then put it down. It’s very a hard science fiction and I couldn’t get into it. Made me feel a little stupid to be honest haha.

    The Expanse books are so damn good. There’s a lot of them, but they read quickly. Especially the first one since it’s a a noir mystery in space.

    Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite authors, so of course I’m going to recommend her her work wholeheartedly. I understand what you mean about her comments about science fiction vs speculative fiction. It’s an annoying sticking point. Oryx and Crake was optioned for a TV show, so you could use that as a catalyst to read it sometime!

    Sins of Empire is fantastic. I’m actually reading the third book right now and his writing of the battle scenes and magic are great. Everything is clear and the magic really enhances the overall aesthetic of the scene.

    The thing with Way fo Kings is that it’s his most overwhelming work. If you’re going to Sanderson, I would recommend starting with Mistborn. The Way of Kings uses a lot of elements and things (not to be spoilerly) from the other novels, so it’s best to read his other work before jumping in so you don’t miss out. It’s a commitment, but it’s worth it.

    Wow that was long than I expected. I probably didn’t have to comment on everything, but meh.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Robin Hobb’s books are great reads. They start out slow though, but become more interesting as the characters develop and the world expands. Assassin’s Apprentice is the best one to start with. It’s the first one of the Farseer trilogy, which is the first set of books in the overall Realm of the Elderlings series. I completed it all last year and think it was all worth the read. Hope it goes well for you.
    I’m considering to read Doctor Sleep this year as well. I really liked the Shining (didn’t like the movie tho).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting! People always tell me how great the movie is lol. But I agree- most SK movies don’t do the books justice.

      And that’s good to know about Hobb! I don’t mind slow if the characters can carry the book, so I have high hopes.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Book Haul! | Hamlets & Hyperspace

  9. I spent most of January sick with the flu and so missed this post! I am so glad ye joined me and the list looks like a lot of fun. I haven’t even read one book off me list yet! Here’s hoping that February will be better. Arrr!
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read any either. I’m thinking The Collapsing Empire will probably be first since it’s the February Group read. And then maybe Oryx and Crake. I’m really excited about this list though! And not too worried about falling behind in January since 20 books is a fairly small portion of my yearly reading. I just had too many ARC reviews due in January.


  10. Pingback: Month in Review: January 2020 | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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