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?

Book Discussion: Authors that have been on my TBR for way too long

I don’t know about you- but I have quite a few authors with multiple books on my TBR that have been there forever.  I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m so hesitant to jump in and wondering if it’s just that I don’t know where to start.  I’m enlisting your help to get me started on some of these books!  Let me know if there’s one that’s better than the others or books that make for good introductions to these authors and their worlds.

Robert Jackson Bennett – Everything he writes sounds exactly like something I need in my life.  I even own his Divine Cities omnibus.  Still haven’t read him.

Chuck Wendig – I think I actually have read a short story by Wendig, and that was what put him on my radar initially, but I never ended up committing to any of his novels.  Now Wanderers is coming in July, and I’m positively giddy with excitement because it sounds epic.

Neal Stephenson – I see Stephenson’s books everywhere.  But I feel like people are pretty mixed on whether they like them or not.  To top it off, from what I understand, his books are all like 800+ pages long.  Where is the best place to start?!

Claire North – The book she’s probably most recognized for is The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, but for some reason that book doesn’t appeal to me so much.  These others  do.

Nancy Kress – Let’s be clear.  I want to read all the Nancy Kress books.  I don’t know if it’s her beautiful covers, or the descriptions or the possibilities for discussion, but every time one of her books pops up in my GoodReads feed. I add it.  Please, someone tell me where to start!

Joe Abercrombie – This is perhaps the most embarrassing one to admit to, because I love dark fiction and everyone recommends him as one of the top grimdark authors.  I think his blurbs are not doing his books justice.  Every time I look at one of them it turns into a TL;DR.  But now he has a new one coming out and I really just need to get on the bandwagon.

Other authors I need recommendations for: Brandon Sanderson (I know, I know), John Scalzi, and Richard Morgan.  Have you read any of these authors?  Can you tell me a good place to start?  Do you have any authors that have been on your TBR for way too long?

Top Ten Tuesday: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

So I decided to break this post up a bit, and tell you the top five longest books I’ve ever read, along with the top five longest books I plan to read (and have likely been putting off… due to their length).

5. A Column of Fire by Ken Follett – 916 pages (according to goodreads.com).  For me, Column of Fire was the least enjoyable of Follett’s Pillars of the Earth series.  Don’t get me wrong- it was a four star read overall, but if I compared it strictly to the first two books, it would only be three stars.   Review here!

4. Four Past Midnight by Stephen King – 930 pages. This was one of King’s less enjoyable short story collections. This is comprised of: The Langoliers, Secret Window, Secret Garden, Library Policeman, and The Sun Dog.  At least two of these are probably considered King classics, and The Sun Dog is one of the many Castle Rock short stories.  Review here.

3.  The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – 973 pages.  One of my favorite historical fiction books of all time.  It’s a sweeping epic set in 12th century England.  Poor Tom Builder is in need of a job.  His wife dies during child birth, and he is left with three children to raise.  Luckily for him, Prior Phillip is in want of a new church.  I know this summary sounds boring, but this is anything but.  It’s filled to the brim with drama, and just when you think these characters can’t fall any lower, the trapdoor gives way.  Sadly I have no review for this one.  (Maybe I could solve that problem with a re-read?)

2.  World Without End by Ken Follett – 1,014 pages.  Again- one of my favorite historical fiction books of all time.  I loved this one even more than Pillars of the Earth.  Follett dropped a lot of the medieval masonry talk (though trust me, there is still plenty) and cranked up the drama.  I can’t say enough good things about these books.  Review here.

1. Under the Dome by Stephen King comes in at 1074 pages.  One of my absolute favorite books of all time.  Period.  I know a lot of King fans disliked this one, but honestly I can’t tell you why.  I’ve read this three times and at least on one occasion, in the span of two days.  Unfortunately, this is probably the only book on the list I could reasonably classify as Science Fiction and I have no review to share.  (Shame on me!)

Honorable mentions: A Passage to Shambhala by Jon Baird and Kevin Costner at 770 pages; Needful Things by Stephen King at 790 pages; A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin at 819 pages; Outlander by Diana Gabaldon at 850 pages; and Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray which GoodReads clocks at 912 pages, but seems suspect to me.

Longest books on my TBR:

5.  The Song of Ice and Fire Books (#2-5) by George R.R. Martin – I’m giving this the number five spot, because A Clash of Kings is only 784 pages, but technically, books three, four and five are all on my TBR and much longer.  (If I had included them, three of these spots would have gone to him, and that’s kind of boring.)

4. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton – 948 pages.  This sounds like a family saga where the “family” are actually all clones.  The world building has the potential to be amazing: cloning, clean energy consumption, instantaneous travel across light years.  Throw in a murder mystery… I am VERY eager to check this out.

3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – 1,007 pages.  Here’s an embarrassing factoid: I’ve never read anything by Sanderson.  I see his name everywhere… for some reason I can’t motivate myself to check him out.  (Someone please convince me in the comments below!)

2. IT by Stephen King – 1,116 pages.  UGH.  THIS BOOK.  Do you know how many times I’ve tried and failed to read IT?  Like eight times.  I pick it up, read the same two chapters, put it down and move on.  I’m not even giving it a fair shake.  I think the problem is that I own it in paperback.  I did make it through a decent chunk of the audio, which was well done, but I’d need like six weeks to listen to it all.

1. The Stand by Stephen King – 1,153 pages.  I’m also embarrassed I haven’t yet read this.  I feel like people who don’t even like King have read this.  I’ve heard the edited “abridged” version is the better one… and I aim to complete it in the next year or two, because it sounds very similar to Under the Dome, if the Dome trapped the whole world and that world had already ended.

Honorable mentions for my TBR:  The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan at 814 pages; 11/22/63 by Stephen King at 849 pages (are we sensing a theme here?); Seveneves by Neal Stephenson at 880 pages; Fall of Giants by Ken Follett at 920 pages; 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami at 925 pages.

What’s sad is looking at the books on my TBR, is I already own most of them.  I don’t dislike long books… Most of the ones on my have read list were four and five star reads for me.  I think I’m just scared to commit to them with the number of buddy, group, and challenge reads I actually have committed to.

What about you?  Long books, yay or nay?