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January 29, 2007

Off the Grid: An Open Thread

Athena's home sick today (she's not horribly sick, merely just sick enough that it's best she not head to class and infect all her friends) and I have plenty of non-blogging related things to catch up on, so I'm going to skip out on all y'all today. Try to have fun without me.

This is an open thread. To get you started, a topic for you:

The book you've been meaning to read, but just haven't gotten to yet.

(Note: exclude the host's books from the list, because he's more interested in hearing about other books.)

See you tomorrow.

Posted by john at January 29, 2007 10:35 AM

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Kellie Hazell | January 29, 2007 10:53 AM

I helped out with a library book sale and was given a box of books for free. In that box was the entire Thomas Covenant series (minus the most recent installment). I got that box of books two and a half years ago, and I still haven't cracked the first book in the series yet. I've shifted them so the series is front and center on my bookshelf. Maybe that'll get me to pick it up.

Steve Buchheit | January 29, 2007 10:58 AM

Charlie Stross' Atrocity Archives, then the Jennifer Morgue. Now that those type of stories are flowing out (one in submission, one that has pieces parts on the disk, one other as notes) I figured I'd better catch up with the modern writings about our favorite octopus-head.

Tim Walker | January 29, 2007 11:00 AM

Tristram Shandy. I've been meaning to read it since I was a teenager (i.e. near 20 years ago), and then this weekend my wife and I watched "Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story" - which was funny and meta-textual in interesting ways. (The movie's well worth seeing.) Now I want to *finally* get around to reading the book itself.

Mark Tiedemann | January 29, 2007 11:01 AM

There are a few...

They're on my shelf, right where they can gaze down upon me as I prevaricate, damning me with what I think is their considerable substance, acumen, and verbal martial ability.

The one I see--sitting there, self-possessed and taunting me--is John Crowley's DAEMONOMANIA. I read AEGYPT and LOVE & SLEEP and looked forward to the third with great anticipation. Then...

Life happens, you know. At least it's on acid free paper.

Patty Cryan | January 29, 2007 11:02 AM

MIDDLEMARCH by George Eliot.

I picked it up off the "Free Books" cart at the library last spring, and haven't gotten a chance to read it.

One of the few professors I actively disliked at my college thought it was a pivotal book in English literature, and that made me too stubborn to read it then.

I've mellowed since.

strugglingwriter | January 29, 2007 11:06 AM

I keep wanting to read 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, but it keeps getting bumped for fiction.

Domenick | January 29, 2007 11:07 AM

Man, oh, man, I have such a stack of books just a-waitin' to be read, that if an ice age were to swoop upon us, I could easily heat my house for weeks, nay, months.

But the one that I keep meaning to read, the one that keeps giving me a sideways glance whenever I walk by it on my bookshelf, is NOTES ON A SCANDAL:WHAT WAS SHE THINKING by Zoe Heller. And now, the movie's coming out, and the pressure's on, because I have to see the movie (it has Cate Blanchett AND Dame Judi Dench. It's a no brainer, really). But I need to read the book before I plop my rear in a theater seat. Sigh.

Jennie | January 29, 2007 11:08 AM

...the entire Thomas Covenant series...

I absolutely LOVED these books as a teenager, to the point where my high school ring HAD to be white gold. When the new one came out, I unearthed the old ones with the intent of re-reading them to refresh my memory before getting the new one. And couldn't make myself finish reading even the first one. Which isn't necessarily a comment on the books one way or the other except to note that while they haven't changed in the last 25 years, I obviously have.


Nance | January 29, 2007 11:10 AM

One word: Ulysses.

Diatryma | January 29, 2007 11:13 AM

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which I am sure I have misspelled as well. I've gotten it out from two libraries, meaning to read it... and it's not going to happen for a while. I know what the problem is; I don't pick it up because I want to read it, I pick it up because everyone's told me it's good. Since I haven't actually looked at it or chosen it, it's always going to be at the end of the queue.

Chang, father of pangolins | January 29, 2007 11:14 AM

Oh, God, Son! It's plural! Books! Books!

Let's see...

No God But God - Reza Aslan
West of jesus - Kutler
Market Forces - Richard K. Morgan
Acccelerando - Charles Stross
Atrocity Archives - Charles Stross
Carnival - Elizabeth Bear

I'm currently working on Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds which I put down a while back and have gotten through past that point. Looks like I'll actually finish it this time.

Elaine | January 29, 2007 11:15 AM

Sherri Tepper's Grass. I've read some of her lighter fare, and a friend raved about Grass so much that I decided I ought to read it. After carrying it on vacations for about three years, I realized that it wasn't going to happen, so I shelved it in the home library.

George | January 29, 2007 11:17 AM

Magic Prague, by Angelo Maria Ripellino. Bought it six years ago, have been meaning to read it since.

MikeB | January 29, 2007 11:26 AM

Chang: you haven't read Accelerando yet? Put everything else down and get right onto that! You will not regret it.

Thomas Covenant - now that brings back some memories. Not sure what the new series will be like, I'll have to add it to the list.

For myself I would tie up way too much bandwidth trying to list all the books I want to read but haven't yet. If I could but pick one maybe I could get started.

Kevin Downing | January 29, 2007 11:34 AM

Neal Stephenson's "Quicksilver" and the rest of the Baroque "prequels" to Cryptonimicon, which may be my favorite book ever.

I've been putting it off because it's set in the 1600's and from a quick glance it's dense with information in that great NS way.

Ann S. | January 29, 2007 11:35 AM

As with everyone else, it's plural, books, that I mean to get around to reading. Right now, it's Murder In Amsterdam, non-fiction about the death of Theo VanGogh a few years ago.
Tim Walker:
Tristram Shandy is a worthy read, but I have a caution for you. Do not try to read it straight through. Take a lot of breaks and read stuff inbetween. It was originally published as a serial with chapters coming out each month. In my opinion, that's a good way to read it. The British humour is wonderful when it is fresh, but one is quickly saturated and then the humor falls FLAT. Once that happens, it becomes a tedious read.

Q | January 29, 2007 11:35 AM

I'd have to put Accelerando on the list as well... sad thing is, I've started it and put it down... considering how everyone raves about I've found myself surprisingly apathetic about it... not that its bad or anything, just that it hasn't grabbed me like I've expected... and I really like Stross in general... but, since I've put it aside for a bit, I've read four other books, including The Jennifer Morgue, which I enjoyed, but not quite as much as I loved The Atrocity Archives...

John League | January 29, 2007 11:36 AM


These books have been on my "To Read List" longest without having even bothered to see if the library has them.

Kyle | January 29, 2007 11:36 AM

Just about everything by Vernor Vinge -- A Fire Upon The Deep, Rainbow's End, The Peace War, Across Realtime, etc.

MIscellaneous Steve | January 29, 2007 11:37 AM

It's not book, it's books. And the top two on the list...

I bought the new translation of War and Peace last year and now it stares tauntingly down at me from the bookshelf in the living room. I read almost half of the novel in college before giving up because of the pressure of all the books I had to read...now, dammit, I finally want to read the whole thing.

And, always, Ulysses. I've read Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist... as preparation; now I have to face Ulysses, and then (*gulp*)...Finnegans Wake.

John League | January 29, 2007 11:37 AM

Oh, that's Anne WROE not Anne Rowe.

John H | January 29, 2007 11:38 AM

Diatryma: "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell"

I picked that up because I kept seeing it in the bookstore and it had "NY TIMES BESTSELLER" plastered on the front cover. Perhaps it was just me, but I found it to be utterly boring and tedious. It wasn't the worst book I've ever read (not even the worst book I've ever finished reading), but it certainly isn't one I recommend.

Of the books I have in queue, perhaps the ones I've been procrastinating the longest on are Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Mirror, Mirror. I've been reading Heinlein lately since I missed him in my younger days...

Jeremiah | January 29, 2007 11:38 AM

This is the running theme of my life. Books I haven't read yet, but want to...

Winter - Len Deighton (read the other nine Samson books. Just have to read the prequel)

Silmarillion - JRR Tolkein (read the other four main books, have started this one twice. It's hard to get into)

I'm also in the middle of Saints by Orson Scott Card. I stopped reading that for a week or two (so busy!), but just picked it back up last night. yay!

John H | January 29, 2007 11:44 AM

Jeremiah: "Silmarillion - JRR Tolkein (read the other four main books, have started this one twice. It's hard to get into)"

I had the same reaction. It's kind of like reading the encyclopedia - great for all the information and back-story it gives, but pretty yawn-inducing. I got about a third of the way into it and set it aside...

Gordon | January 29, 2007 11:44 AM

Remembrance of Things Past- started it when I was about 16, never finished it. Ditto Ulysses, but I doubt I'll ever finish it, because it simply doesn't work in the way that I expect written language to work, and as such is akin to me trying to read Arabic.

At least, that's how I remember it. Maybe that's not the case anymore, but I'm still nowhere near close to picking up that book again.

shane | January 29, 2007 11:46 AM

I've got a couple I've been sitting on for a looong time:

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, Nathaniel Philbrick

It's about the tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, which apparently inspired Melville to write MOBY DICK.

CAPE COD, Henry David Thoreau

It's an old copy, and I picked it up while we were cleaning out my grandmother's house in, of all places, Cape Cod. Seemed fitting.

If nothing else, this open thread has reminded me that I need to make the time to read more.

Patrick Shepherd | January 29, 2007 11:46 AM

Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. I'm actually about 1/3 of the way through this, but I keep putting it down in favor of other lighter reading (of which there's always six or seven sitting in my TBR pile).

ern | January 29, 2007 11:47 AM

Kevin--you won't regret investing the time in Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. It is simply amazing. But yes, it is long and dense, but Stephenson's humor and brilliant characters make up for it. Cryptonomicon remains one of my favorite books.

For me, the book waiting to be read is Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. I started it, and was intrigued, but left off somewhere in the first third of the book. I went on to other books, and now will probably have to start over again. I've been putting off reading Richard Morgan's Broken Angels (I loved Altered Carbon), and need to get to that one as well.

Dan Blum | January 29, 2007 11:48 AM

I probably can't even remember everything on my to-read list, but it definitely includes

  • Ash, Mary Gentle
  • The Exploits of Engelbrecht, Maurice Richardson
  • Budspy, David Dvorkin
  • Look to Windward, Iain M. Banks (and whatever other Culture books I haven't read)
  • The Urth of the New Sun, The Book of the Long Sun, and The Book of the Short Sun, all by Gene Wolfe (to be preceded by a re-read of The Book of the New Sun)
  • Soldier of Arete and Soldier of Sidon, also by Gene Wolfe (preceded by Soldier of the Mist)

David Kirkpatrick | January 29, 2007 11:50 AM

Recent books: I've had Steph Swainston's 'The Year of Our War' and 'No Present Like Time' on my shelf to read for ages now, and they always seem to get bumped aside for some reason or another....

Older books: I picked up the four volume Mardrus and Mathers translation of 'The Thousand Nights and One Night' two years ago, and I've only managed to get partway through the first volume. Luckily its episodic nature lends itself to reading in small bits....

Jon | January 29, 2007 11:53 AM

Iain M. Banks' Culture novels. I keep hearing good things about them, but am unable to find copies.

Josh | January 29, 2007 11:54 AM

The number of things in my to-be-read pile is just appalling. What’s even more appalling are the books I’ve been reading for upwards of two years, in some cases. So…

Confederacy of Dunces
And You Shall Know Our Velocity

To Be Read:
Tales of the City (actually, this is the first book in a six-book series, and I’d like to try to read the whole thing in one go).
I Am Legend
A Series of Unfortunate Events

There are at least a dozen more books that I can think of off the top of my head, but those are the “next in line” books.

Marianne | January 29, 2007 11:55 AM

Well, I suspect that out of my several hundred to-be-reads there are at least a hundred that I really have been meaning to get to right away ... for a very long time.

But most pressing is reading more Jane Austen. Which I have been meaning to do for at least 2 years. And I even have two or three of her novels, previously unread by me, loitering around the house. And I loved P&P. And yet.

marrije | January 29, 2007 11:56 AM

MT Anderson's 'Octavian Nothing', because Justine Larbalestier and Gwenda Bond loved it, and we should all listen to Justine and Gwenda since they have excellent taste.

Tucker | January 29, 2007 11:57 AM

Oof. Just off the top of my head:

_Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_. I've had a borrowed copy for, um, three years now.

All three of Gene Wolfe's _Soldier_ books.

Haruki Murakami's _A Wild Sheep Chase_. Read _Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World_ years ago and adored it.

There's probably a ton of stuff in the as-yet-uncatalogued mass-market shelves as well.

And I just keep on acquiring /more/ on the list! At this rate I shall never die.

Todd Stull | January 29, 2007 11:59 AM

To echo a few comments: You should all read Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It is awesome.

Kyle and everyone else: Vernor Vinge's stuff is all fantastic. Stop putting it off!

Books on my list to read right now are non-fiction, because I always seem to make time to read the fiction. I would like to finish Marriage: A History, Pesuasion and Healing, and The Looming Tower.

Jeff Hentosz | January 29, 2007 12:03 PM

[raspberry] You're kidding, right? Only like a third of the shelves downstairs (includes Gormenghast and your rec Winter's Tale), a quarter of the shelves at the upstairs landing (incl. Gaiman's recs Lud-in-the-Mist and Jurgen, and Ellison's rec Ragtime), three or four boxes in the cubby (incl. a few of the late Charles Grant's adventure/comedies), the bottom shelf of my night stand (a few Larbel-esterfeld YAs), and the stacks next to the mantel, in the office closet and over there in the corner (incl. my shiny new omnibus of Fredric Brown SF novels...mmm, Martians).

Thanks, by the way, John, for pimping The Blonde a few weeks ago. Great. (Duane, you out there? Ed Hunter. Brown, right? Clipjoint?)

Currently in the middle of The Terror by Dan Simmons. Wow. Brrr.

Diatryma: John H is obviously under the influence of a surfeit of White Castle. Jonathan Strange is wonderful. Best bet: find and start with Clarke's story collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu.

Steve Buchheit | January 29, 2007 12:06 PM

Well, if it's books it would be easier to just post a picture of the boxes of books in the guilt stack.

As for JS & Mr. N, it is an aquired taste, not one that everybody wants. If you like "older" (ie. Victorian) books you'll like this one. There actually is a really good story in there. If you don't like that kind of language, it's going to drag.

Jeff | January 29, 2007 12:17 PM

Well, Since Agent to the Stars and OMW are taking my time up, the next on my list is probably - "The Tao of Pooh" and "The Te of Piglet". I also have 5 boxes of Sci-fi in my closet I found that were given to me, published between 1950 and 1975 - lots of gems in there if I ever get motivated enough to go through it. I also need to find Ringworld by Niven and get through Needful Things by King as well as the rest of the Dark Tower series as I promised a friend I'd read them...

@ Kellie - good luck with Thomas Covenant. I tried that series 4 times now and just cannot get into it, though I'm told by friends it's great.

jason | January 29, 2007 12:22 PM

There are so many, but the one currently glowering at me from atop my desk is T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I bought it years ago after seeing Lawrence of Arabia for the first time but kept finding excuses to put off reading it. Now it taunts me, always waiting for attention, a big, doorstop-sized reminder of my own lack of ambition...

John H | January 29, 2007 12:32 PM

Steve Buchheit: "There actually is a really good story in there. If you don't like that kind of language, it's going to drag."

I'd have to say that the language was not the reason it dragged for me. I agree that there was a good story to be had, it was the unnecessary number of pages she used to tell the story. Her editor should have stepped in when she started delivering four page footnotes...

Although it was still better than The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where he devotes an entire chapter to telling you the layout of Paris...

Bryan | January 29, 2007 12:39 PM

As with most others, the word is books.

To second what others have said, I have the Baroque Cycle books sitting on my shelves waiting to be read.

Along with them on my short list are:
The Years of Rice and Salt (Kim Stanley Robinson)
Vellum (Hal Duncan)
Winter's Tale (Mark Helprin)

Horia Nicola Ursu | January 29, 2007 12:42 PM

Conrad Williams' THE UNBLEMISHED and Tobias Buckell's CRYSTAL RAIN. I got the first one just before Christmas (thanks again, Jeff V) and the second a couple weeks ago. Now I'm about to take a trip to Sofia (Bulgaria) which will involve (to and fro) at least 20 hours on a train and 12 to 15 hours by car (and I won't be the one driving), so I guess that these are going away with me :)

Horia Nicola Ursu | January 29, 2007 12:52 PM

Ah, and best wishes to Athena! My Stefana's been through the same just before New Year's Eve.

PockyPimp | January 29, 2007 12:52 PM

Since the host's books are not to be listed I still want to read Hugh Laurie's "The Gun Seller" which a friend reccomended to me. There's probably 100 books I'd like to read still but my mind is drawing a blank. There's a couple of graphic novels I'd like to pick up (well graphic novel now former comic books) "Daisy Cutter" by Kazu Kibuishi and I'd like to read Frank Miller's "300" before the movie comes out to just get a sense of the visuals. But I think the last 2 come mostly from my art background.

Bryce | January 29, 2007 12:55 PM

People like the Thomas Covenant books? Wow, I forced myself to read the first trilogy back when I was in High School because they were recommended to me by a friend. They were some of the worst books I had ever read to that time (note: this was before the rise of Laurell K. Hamilton).

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister was kind of boring too. In fact, the only book by Maguire that I've read and enjoyed was Wicked. Including it's sequel. The Baroque Cycle was alright in parts, but also managed to bore me to tears in places; something I would have sworn prior to reading the trilogy impossible for Neal Stephenson.

I loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Focault's Pendulum when I read them, though. But this isn't supposed to be a "what I've read and loved/hated" thread, it's a "what is on my to read list." Well, I've got Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, This Is The Way The World Ends by the always cheery James Morrow, World War Z by Max Brooks, and John Crowley's Little Big.

Yes, I'm behind... I blame work.

Karen Burnham | January 29, 2007 12:56 PM

As with so many here, my To Be Read pile takes up at least 3 bookshelves. However, to pick a few top ones I've been *meaning* to get around to for awhile:

Fantasy: "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town" Cory Doctorow
Non-Fiction: "The Pythons" by The Pythons (Monty Python autobiography-type book)
Classic: "The Once and Future King" T.H. White

Carl V. | January 29, 2007 12:57 PM

I have been wanting to read The Histories by Herodotus ever since Neil Gaiman's book American Gods came out in 2001. I loved how much the book featured into the life of Shadow, the main character. There are a number of people on book blogs talking about reading this. Hopefully we'll do some kind of group read of it to help spur me on to pick it up.

joelfinkle | January 29, 2007 12:59 PM

Oh god, where to begin?
"Empire" by Orson Scot Card. He's gotten awfully preachy in recent books, I keep putting it off.

"The Terror" by Simmons. It's not SF so I'm less likely to leap at it, and I don't have time to fully invest in his writing, so I'm reading light stuff (like Anthony Bourdain's "The Nasty Bits" -- he's the Harlan Ellison of travel and cooking, and Walter Jon Williams "The Crown Jewels", which makes a nice pairing with TAD, actually)

The one heavy I finally did read recently was "Perdido Street Station". Our Revered Host here has talked about how you grab people with the first line, and this book begins with the mindset of an extremely depressed character, which put the book off my list for several years. The book has funny galore, but that prologue makes ou think it's going to be a Le Guin-level mope.

Annalee Flower Horne | January 29, 2007 01:01 PM

I'm currently trying to catch up on some of the genre classics and staples. To that end, I just read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Loved it.

I have Red Mars and The Left Hand of Darkness sitting on my nightstand, but I haven't gotten to them yet. In my defense, that may be because I'm studying abroad this semester. Studying+cultural immersion=coming home every night exhausted.

But we have time for what we make time for, so Red Mars and I should really sit down for a chat.

I've also been meaning to read Throne of Jade and The Black Powder War, because His Majesty's Dragon was made of awesome and then dipped in awesome-sauce. But they're on the other side of a fairly large ocean from me right now, so it'll have to wait.

Annalee Flower Horne | January 29, 2007 01:01 PM

I'm currently trying to catch up on some of the genre classics and staples. To that end, I just read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Loved it.

I have Red Mars and The Left Hand of Darkness sitting on my nightstand, but I haven't gotten to them yet. In my defense, that may be because I'm studying abroad this semester. Studying+cultural immersion=coming home every night exhausted.

But we have time for what we make time for, so Red Mars and I should really sit down for a chat.

I've also been meaning to read Throne of Jade and The Black Powder War, because His Majesty's Dragon was made of awesome and then dipped in awesome-sauce. But they're on the other side of a fairly large ocean from me right now, so it'll have to wait.

Tucker | January 29, 2007 01:03 PM

I'm well aware that I run the dire risk of having all my geek cred revoked for saying this, but I really, really disliked Cryptonomicon. I got about two-thirds of the way through, thinking all the while "Wow! The prose is great, and the myriad plot threads are /awesome/! How on earth is he ever going to tie them all back together? That will be great to watch!" And then I realised that . . . he wasn't going to. And indeed, he let most of them just kinda . . . drop. Left a /very/ sour taste in my mouth.

Snow Crash, though, is excellent stuff.

Jeteraus | January 29, 2007 01:04 PM

For those of you struggling through books for extened periods, I have some advice. Throw them away and never think of them again. There are too many books out there to love, don't waste your time on ones you have to make yourself read (and I don't care how 'famous' or 'classic' they are.)

Books I intend to read, but haven't?

V. by Thomas Pynchon
Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald
A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay


Paul | January 29, 2007 01:10 PM

I have a bad habit of buying books, even though I'm kinda off reading these days. Books I've picked up over the last year or two but haven't cracked:
David Brin - Kiln People
William Gibson - Pattern Recognition
Neil Gaiman - Anansi Boys
Cory Doctorow - Eastern Standard Tribe

For those who have mentioned Eco, I really enjoyed The Name of the Rose, and Baudolino. I'm currently a few chapters into The Island of the Day Before and struggling. I'm finding it very dense.

I was reading Dawkins' The God Delusion, but dropped it when Guy Kay's latest, Ysabel, came out. I'm about thirty pages into Ysabel, and stalled. Not through any fault of the book. It's great so far, and I love all of Kay's books. It's just, as I said earlier, I'm kinda off reading right now.

Chris P. | January 29, 2007 01:16 PM

Where to start?

"Endymion" and "The Rise of Endymion" by Dan Simmons. (for which I'll have to re-read "Hyperion" and The Fall of Hyperion).

Homer's "Iliad," as a prelude to reading Simmons's "Ilium" and "Olympos."

"The Risen Empire" and "The Killing of Worlds" by Scott Westerfeld.

Samuel R. Delany's "Nova."

The giant anvil-heavy Beatles biography by Bob Spitz.

Also, Joe Queenan's "The Unkindest Cut," which a friend lent me a while back (um, actually, it was 10 years ago -- this is a very patient and understanding friend).

ern, I don't think you'll be disappointed with "Broken Angels." The 3rd Takeshi Kovacs book, "Woken Furies," is great, too. Morgan just gets better with each book.

Steve Buchheit | January 29, 2007 01:16 PM

John H, I have to admit that I "read" JS & Mr. N as an audiobook. I get a lot of reading done this way. Radio reception is for nada at work, and I have a lot of overtime. Audiobooks certainly help fill dormant brain cycles and keep my brain from completely checking out.. While the book reading wasn't the most entertaining I've heard (C. Moore's "A Dirty Job" read by Fischer Steven's is the most enjoyable, and maybe not "work friendly", just a warning), it also was by far not the worst.

Kenneth | January 29, 2007 01:18 PM

Having just finished The Android's Dream (previously on the list!), I've begun reading something that's waited on me for a couple of decades, Homer's The Iliad, which is surprising excellent and not nearly as dry as I thought it might be. Next up, The Odyssey, both translations by Robert Fagles. Along with my reading of The Iliad, I'm listening to The Teaching Company lectures on it, and will do the same with Odyssey. I like to do this, combine lectures in the car with a book on a similar subject.

Tracey | January 29, 2007 01:20 PM

Books currently in progress:

Functional neuroimaging of cognitive processes
Social Neuroscience
The Feeling of What Happens (Damasio)

(while these are school-related, I am reading them purely for my own self-edification, so I think they count)

Awaiting my pleasure:
the newest Fables collection (Wolves, #8), as soon as I can get my red hot hands on it, I love love love that series.

V. by Pynchon
Flow, by Czhiczentmihalyi (sp?)
Brideshead Revisited, by E. Waugh
A couple of books by Kelley Armstrong
A Thread of Grace, Mary Doria Russell (that one's been waiting for years for me to be in the right mood)
The Manly Wade Wellman collected stories volumes I picked up last year (fun stuff!)
The last book in the Neveryon saga by Delany

And many, many more...

Kristian | January 29, 2007 01:23 PM

Don Quixote
Gulliver's Travels

Sheparding a Child's Heart

Just finished the Pilgrim's Progress.

John | January 29, 2007 01:35 PM

A couple of books that I got for Christmas that I haven't hit yet:

The Poetic Edda
Agyar by Steven Brust

Those are next on my list.

J at The Dundies | January 29, 2007 01:38 PM

David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Anything written by Augusten Burroughs (I've already read Running With Scissors)

Dan Parry | January 29, 2007 01:40 PM

I have several of Trevanian's novels on my shelf (I read Shibumi and loved it, so I picked up a bunch of others and just haven't started them yet), such as The Eiger Sanction and The Main. I'm better than halfway through The Terror, and nearly put it down in favor of Christopher Moore's new book, You Suck (A Love Story), but what's another week of waiting?

Nick Bantock's The Forgetting Room is still waiting for me, and I'd like to make it through House of Leaves one day, but it's a tough read.

For the person above who mentioned Perdido Street Station, I recommend The Scar... it's got all the humor, sadness, and breathtaking imagery of Perdido, but wrapped up in a faster plot with, to me, more interesting characters. One day, China's going to write a history of that world, and it's going to be a hell of a book.

Nathan | January 29, 2007 01:53 PM

I have nothing that actually fits into the category of "been meaning to read and haven't gotten around to it". Having said that, my wish list on Amazon is getting really long.

At the moment I'm rereading Elizabeth Moon's Vatta series in anticipation of the next book coming out.

This will be briefly interrupted the very moment Jane Sagan's memoir arrives. Where is that sucka, anyway?

Ann S. | January 29, 2007 01:54 PM

Glad to see A Thread of Grace on your booklist. I hope you don't really have to work yourself into the right mood to read it. It's well-written and a good story. Have you read other Russell books, i.e. The Sparrow and Children of God? If you haven't read them, I might suggest The Sparrow as an introduction to her writing, rather than TOG. Jeteraus:I agree with you. I give a book two aborted starts. If it doesn't make me want to finish it, I bid it "g'day" and move one. Life is too short.

PixelFish | January 29, 2007 01:55 PM

Gormenghast. I'll probably be attempting it for the second time very soon.

Naomi Novik's Temeraire books would be on the list, except I read a chapter online a week back, and went and got the first one, which I polished off in a night. Then I went back and got the other two, which were then similarly devoured.

I need to finish reading the rest of the short stories in Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, the Tiptree anthology. I got through the first third before putting it down to read other things.

I just finished Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness in a bathtub session on Friday, I think, so the next one in that series is up.

Nathan | January 29, 2007 01:56 PM

Oh, and here's an enthusiastic second to all who suggested The Baroque Cycle. Amazing stuff. Yes, it's a bit dense in places, but totally worth it.

Ed | January 29, 2007 01:58 PM

Right on, I've been meaning to read some of those Fagles translations for years now.

Mike Timonin | January 29, 2007 02:02 PM

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I've started it twice, and I really can't get into it. It's not a novel, it's a logic puzzle, and I'm not all that fond of logic puzzles. BUT, everyone I know who's read it claims that it's worth struggling through. I found a copy at a free book swap over the summer, so I really have little excuse not to finish it.

Ummm. I also got this massive tome entitled Wars of the 20th Century for Christmas that looks really neat, but I haven't taken the time to look at it in any sort of detail.

Mike Timonin | January 29, 2007 02:03 PM

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I've started it twice, and I really can't get into it. It's not a novel, it's a logic puzzle, and I'm not all that fond of logic puzzles. BUT, everyone I know who's read it claims that it's worth struggling through. I found a copy at a free book swap over the summer, so I really have little excuse not to finish it.

Ummm. I also got this massive tome entitled Wars of the 20th Century for Christmas that looks really neat, but I haven't taken the time to look at it in any sort of detail.

ship | January 29, 2007 02:04 PM

band of brothers by stephen ambrose, and beyond band of brothers by major richard winters. i am a fanatic about that miniseries as well as a history nerd, but i usually don't read non-fiction. my wife gave me both of these and i haven't gotten around to reading them yet.

Ann Vallier | January 29, 2007 02:14 PM

What's next on the reading list? I have no idea. I have an 8 page "To Read" spreadsheet that I just randomly select something off of and order up from the public library. And thanks to the above recommendations there will now probably be 9 pages of "To Read" books.

"Charles Dodgson" | January 29, 2007 02:15 PM

the book I'm not reading is riveting

the book I'm not reading keeps me up at night

the book I'm not reading is better than TV

giving me insight

the book I'm not reading is history

the book I'm not reading is by some paperback writer

the book I'm not reading is a mystery

who done it don't matter

oh I need someone to read me stories

oh someone to turn the page

oh the endless quest for love and glory

oh does not fade away with age

     —Patty Larkin

Chang, father of pangolins | January 29, 2007 02:29 PM


I started it and I have to say (sorry, Charlie) it was wicked challenging to get past the first 50 pages. It's a very dense read, full of alot of terminology, as you know. I found when I got into Manfred's meeting with the Franklin Collective, I realized I'd read it before (at least that bit). It's getting easier, but I had to stop and read something lighter as I felt I wasn't doing "Accelerando" justice.

Grumpator | January 29, 2007 02:34 PM

Well, thanks everyone. Great idea, John! Now my list is just that much longer.

Tatiana | January 29, 2007 02:35 PM

Extremely loud & incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Also, Witnesses of war : children’s lives under the Nazis by Nicholas Stargardt - this is more of a "I really should read this" than "I mean to read this but haven't gotten to it yet", though. (Why, yes, I do have a folder titled "Should Read", doesn't everyone?)

Ron | January 29, 2007 02:38 PM

Good Omens - Gaiman/Pratchett
An Army of Davids - Glenn Reynolds
Thief of Time - Pratchett
The Fabric of the Cosmos - Brian Greene
Sound Reinforcement Handbook

Currently reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

I too tried the Silmarillion and failed. However, I tried again when a friend of mine told me she had read the whole thing, because I wasn't about to let a girl outdo me. That time I finished it.

Miscellaneous Steve | January 29, 2007 02:59 PM

Tatiana: Extremely loud & incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

I read that last year. Amazing book.

I have read the first book of The Baroque Cycle and I really liked it. Gotta find the time to read the other two, now.

Mark | January 29, 2007 03:03 PM

Far too many to list but there's one writer I read a few of and found very interesting when I was a teenager (when, ahem, Johnson was president): John Dos Passos. The most recent SF writer I've seen refer to him as an influence is Jack McDevitt. The techniques he pioneered are certainly relevant to SF - anybody who's read Gateway or the great Brunners of the late 1960's (Stand on Zanzibar etc.) or substantial amounts of Haldeman can see that. A very influential and celebrated writer in his day who may be so far out of favor and esteem he's back in. The USA Trilogy (published in the late 1930's) is sitting on my shelf.

I'm now officially a seriocon geek.

PixelFish | January 29, 2007 03:14 PM

note to Jason above: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom is interesting reading just so you can compare where the movie condenses or outright changes things. It's been a long time since I read it myself so maybe it's worth a re-read. (It's my opinion that the first half of LoA is the best movie EVAR, but while the second half gives it meaning, it also weighs it down a tad.)

hugh57 | January 29, 2007 03:24 PM

SF books I've been meaning to read:

Great Sky River by Greg Benford
Idlewild/Edenborn/Everfree by Nick Sagan
Kiln People by David Brin
Queen of Angels by Greg Bear
Moving Mars by Greg Bear
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Blindsight by Peter Watts

Jim Wright (who's finally back home again) | January 29, 2007 03:44 PM

Well, see now that I've read this thread I've suddenly got a MUCH longer list of books to read (and people constantly ask me what I'm going to do when I retire, duh!). Thanks, thanks a whole lot.

Chris P. said: "Samuel R. Delany's "Nova." Chris, Nova is hands down one of the best damn books I've ever read. By all means, make time for it.

As for me: George RR Martin's latest Fire & Ice installment has been sitting on my desk for a year now. But it's been so long since I read the first 3 that I've got to reread them all before I can get to it - since I can no longer remember who's what in the story. And it's just so much friggin' work. I absolutely love GRRM, but I wish he'd go back to writing his Federal Empire/Double War stuff.

I also have ordered Peter Watt's first 3 novels, since I enjoyed Blindsight so much. Thanks, Scalzi for turning me on to him.

And if anybody knows where I can get a copy of the Britania & Erie Culinaria (Konemann), I'd appreciate it. I've got all the rest, but that one is damn near impossible to find. New or used, I'd pay anything reasonable for it. Thanks/Jim

Eric R. | January 29, 2007 03:46 PM

Chris P., if you're planning to read Ilium and Olympos by Dan Simmons, I would suggest reading the Odyssey beforehand as well.

Metal Fatigue | January 29, 2007 04:01 PM

Oh, man. I have boxes of them. It took a while after I stopped having much free time for reading dead trees for that change to percolate through to my shopping habits.

The one I feel worst about is probably Thud!, by Terry Pratchett. What the hell is wrong with my life, that so many things have taken priority over reading a Discworld book? It's incredibly depressing to think about.

Doselle Young | January 29, 2007 04:03 PM

(1) The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky and Kent Williams,

(2) Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertram Russell,

(3) Accelerando by Charlie Stross,

(4) Killer On The Road by James Ellroy,

(5) Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis,

(6) I, Fatty by Jerry Stahl,

(7) Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe, and

(8) Flux by Stephen Baxter.

All right, so I'm actually half way through "Lunar Park" and digging in to Bertram Russell, but the others remain uncracked, shame as it is to say.



Paul M | January 29, 2007 04:27 PM

Currently reading Blindsight (Watts). Ummm, wow.

Next up on the list is River of Gods (Macdonald).

Most recent reads are The Algebraist (Banks) and Carnival (Bear).

ordinarygirl | January 29, 2007 04:37 PM

Dan B, Look to Windward is very good. Use of Weapons is still probably my favorite so far of what I've read.

For those of you looking for Culture books, you can find them on Amazon and Abe Books (abebooks.com). I also find them at Half Price Books sometimes.

I finished Snow Crash earlier this year and it was good, but somewhat lacking. That pushed Cryptonomicon further down my reading list.

I'll post my list tonight. I want to include a book I picked up last weekend, but I can't remember the title.

Tania | January 29, 2007 05:11 PM

I did a quick run home to check what is on the stack in the bedroom. This makes my reading look more high-brow than it really is.

To Be Read
The Ancestor’s Tale – Richard Dawkins
The Great Boer War – Arthur Conan Doyle
Midsummer Moon – Laura Kinsale
Glasshouse – Charlie Stross
Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman
Various Anthologies - Miscellaneous Authors (distributed in cars, desks, purses, etc for when I am stuck waiting or need to have a little bit of escape time)

To Be Re-Read
The Decameron – Boccaccio
The Graveyard Game – Kage Baker

TypesetJez | January 29, 2007 05:51 PM

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Marley's Ghost by Leviathan

I hope Athena feels better soon!

Mike Houser | January 29, 2007 05:57 PM

The Scar by China Mieville. This has been at the top of the list for a long time but I'm constantly picking another book. I loved Perdido Street Station but it was a bit intimidating. Am I the only one who has this problem. I feel the same way about the third Revelation Space book.

Kat | January 29, 2007 06:08 PM

Peter Watts's Starfish. My husband adores this book and tried to dig it out of the stacks for me two years ago when we first moved in together. Couldn't find it, couldn't find it... he finally figured out it had been lent to a friend and never recovered. Then he spent a few months trying to work out which friend, by elimination, with no success. He finally broke down and decided to buy a new copy... only to discover the book was out of print. He offered me the free internet version available on Peter's site, but I just can't read off a screen that well.

Finally, about six months ago, he tracked down a used copy on eBay. And... I still haven't read it. It looks good, it really does, but it looks like one of those dense "concept" books. I keep meaning to read it but being distracted by candy... and then, when I am in the mood, I can't find the damned thing. And by the time it re-emerges from the copious book stacks I've been distracted by more lurvley Bujold or Pratchett or....

*sigh* I am gonna get to it, honest. That, or my husband's gonna kill me.

Andrew | January 29, 2007 06:31 PM

A few, firstly Jasper Fforde the Forth Bear and then the "Empires Daughter" and "Rivals Son" by Simon Brown, I likes his last fantasy trilogy.

Mark | January 29, 2007 06:38 PM

Why I Hate Canadians by Will Ferguson and Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust - I 've started it a handful of times get about halfway through volume 1 and bail.

ordinarygirl | January 29, 2007 07:10 PM

I swear that I have hundreds of unread books to read. Damn you, Half
Price Books! But these are at the top of my list...

Finish Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Excession by Iain M. Banks
The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams
The Planets edited by Byron Preiss
(an anthology of planetary essays and short sci fi stories.. I'm really looking forward to this one)
The History of the End of the World by Jonathan Kirsch

MWT | January 29, 2007 08:31 PM

I was a voracious reader in my youth. I don't know what happened with that, because now I hardly read (novel-length fictional stories) at all. I read science magazines, roleplaying sourcebooks, online roleplaying games where I'm also playing (writing), and people's blogs. The occasional software manual (fr'instance, I'm slogging my way through learning IDL at the moment). But not novels.

So my list is ridiculously long. Things that I actually own but haven't gotten around to:

1. Steve Brust's Adrilankha series. That hilarious picture on Book 2, of Morrolan sitting there with the superbored expression, calls to me. But unfortunately I need to read Book 1 first, which causes my brain to go into gridlock.

2. Janet Kagan's Hellspark. I greatly enjoyed Uhura's Song and Mirabile. For some reason I haven't managed to get past the first sentence in Hellspark though.

3. several Star Trek related books. Somehow I lost interest in Star Trek several years back, but kept buying new books before I realized I wasn't actually reading them anymore.

4. William Gibson's Neuromancer. It was on my brother's shelf when I visited over Christmas. He let me take it with me. It's next on my list of things to try opening.

5. Ron McLarty's Memory of Running. This was among the books my mother found in 2005, in a box outside an abandoned house. The box had been sitting there on the front step for 6 weeks before she claimed it. It doesn't help that I tried to read another of the books from that box, Deborah Larsen's The White, and couldn't get through it even though I loved the premise, and even while bored in an airport.

6. The second half of Orson Scott Card's Shadow of a Giant. I've got 200 more pages to go, and it isn't holding my interest terribly well.

7. The rest of the short stories in the Cliche Issue of Subterranean Press's magazine. Also, the rest of Atlanta Nights (I got to chapter 11 or so).

Then there's all the things I don't currently own but want to:

1. Book 4 forward of Harry Potter.
2. LKH's Blue Moon, Obsidian Butterfly. I've read everything before Blue Moon, and that's as far as I plan to go with that series. But probably not for a while; it's now at the bottom of my list due to recent hysterics.
3. Pratchett. Anything. I've got one PDF of one Discworld book, have heard a lot of good things about the series, and really ought to get around to looking.
4. Neil Gaiman. Anything. I've yet to read anything he's written.
5. Jim Macdonald. Anything. For the same reasons as I need to get around to reading more Scalzi.
6. Steve Brust's Dzur, Brokedown Palace. I started reading Dzur in a bookstore over Christmas and had trouble putting it down....
7. Robert Sloan 2's Raven Dance. Which is another story (besides Agent to the Stars) that's available in its entirety online, at iUniverse. I just need to get around to it. I'm also looking forward to his Piarra series, whenever it finally gets published. ;) If nothing else because I want to see the DM's take on "Dragaera."
8. Glen Cook's Dread Empire series. I've read all of Black Company and a few Garrett PI, and he's still one of my favorite fantasy authors.
9. Starcraft series - Queen of Blades, Nova. I read the first three plus the ebook, hated Book 2 but thought the others were decent, and now that I've started collecting them I feel compelled to continue.
10. Bill Amend's Jam-Packed Foxtrot. Okay I'm not sure it counts as a "real" book but hey, I love this comic strip. :) And since I stopped reading newspapers, my only exposure to it is through buying the treasuries.

And I better stop at 10, since this has taken a lot longer than I thought it would, plus I'm monopolizing space in the comment thread...

Couple miscellaneous other comments:
Steve Brust's Agyar is a really good standalone vampire novel. His take on the genre is quite a bit different from most other vampire novels I've read.

I had the same trouble with Tolkien's Silmarillion. It was just too dry. But then again, I'm one of those heathens that liked the movies better than the books. ;)

Cathy | January 29, 2007 08:35 PM

I've got an enitre bookcase of TBR books.

Currently reading the Tiptree collection Teh Thousand Light Years from Home

After that Water for Gotham about the building of NYC's reservoir and aqueduct system, and Mourners the latest in Bill Pronzini's Nameless Detective series.

JH | January 29, 2007 09:17 PM

I have a half-finished copy of A Storm of Swords and an unstarted A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin. I stalled on them when I last moved, and haven't started up again.

Robert Cruze Jr. | January 29, 2007 09:43 PM

Right off the top of my head...

Hell's Gate, David Weber and Linda Evans

Local Custom, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (and the rest of the Liaden series...)

Succession, Scott Westerfield (The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds omnibus)

Resonance, Chris Dolley

And the first three books in David Brin's Uplift series (and if I like those, then I'll get the last three)

They're all on the "read these before the year's out" priority list... like they were last year. Oh well :-D

Jeffery | January 29, 2007 09:47 PM

Since my reading is heavy in the SF area, I've been meaning to read:

Charles Dickens: David Copperfield and Bleak House.

James Clavell: Gai Jin.

Carl Sagan: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.

John D MacDonald: Travis McGee novels. Anyone have opinions on these?

Recently read from my meaning to read pile, Patrick O'Brian: Master and Commander. Opinions on the rest of the series?

Jonathan | January 29, 2007 10:16 PM

Man on man, it doesn't get any better for wise-cracking mystery novels than the Travis McGee novels. And the Aubrey/Maturin series is also amazing. I really enjoyed listening to Patrick Tull narrate them on tape too.

I'd like to get back to my Lifetime Reading Plan books, like Tom Jones and The Red and The Black.

BTW, what sci-fi author are YOU?


Tania | January 29, 2007 10:38 PM

Jeffrey - Aubrey and Maturin are WONDERFUL reads. Highly recommended by me.

Alix | January 29, 2007 10:50 PM

Hm. It figures. I've been reading this blog for a while (it's one of maybe five I read daily), and the first post I actually get around to commenting on is about what books we're reading.

Like many others here, I have scads of books waiting to be read. My entire closet's full of 'em.

What I intend to finish sometime before March:

The Unending Mystery: A Journey Through Labyrinths and Mazes by David Willis McCullough. So far, so good, even if the labyrinth pictures make me dizzy.

The Quest of the Fair Unknown by Gerald Morris. It's the latest (I think ... the latest my library has, anyway) in his series of Arthurian retellings for young adults and, honestly, his series is the best retelling of those legends I've ever read - better by far than every adult fiction retelling I've read.

Weird Hauntings: True Tales of Ghostly Places, because it's about ghosts and has pretty pictures. What more of a reason do I need? (I keep patting the book, though, and I really need to, y'know, read it.)

Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States, by the National Audobon Society. Hey, I read my unabridged dictionary for fun, ok? (Actually, it's for a project...)

Angel of Darkness by Charles de Lint. A coworker (I work at my library) reserved it for me, and it's due back soon.

...Okay, I need to stop with the list now.

Morris | January 29, 2007 10:59 PM

I'm currently slogging my way through Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver - it's a library copy, I've got like 160 pages into it and I've already renewed the thing twice.

I know there's a really cool book in there but I just can't sit down and read the thick thing in one go .. it's driving me crazy!

David Goldfarb | January 30, 2007 12:20 AM

I've got a huge pile of books waiting for me to read them...I could stop reading anything at all new (yeah, that's going to happen), and not run out for a year, maybe two.

What's highest on the list of "Meaning to read, haven't gotten to it yet?" Probably The Prestige, by Christopher Priest. But there's also:
To Ride A Rathorn, P.C. Hodgell (I have to re-read the first three, though)
The Wizard Knight, Gene Wolfe
Od Magic, Patricia McKillip
Shalimar the Clown, Salman Rushdie
The Atrocity Archives (re-read) and The Jennifer Morgue, Charles Stross

(And I did get a copy of The Ghost Brigades for Christmas, but I'm not supposed to list that one.)

On the other topic of conversation: I thought Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was delightful. I didn't want it to end. And hey, it's so long that it's almost like it doesn't.

Jeffery | January 30, 2007 12:52 AM

Jonathon and Tania, thanks for the advice on the Aubrey/Maturin series, first book was enjoyable, and look forward to the remaining series.

Strange and Norrell has some good bits but for me was way too long.

Stephenson's Baroque series was enjoyable and cool. I read these as they came out and would bet they hang together better if reading all three at once. Cryptonomicon was terrific.

The Scar by China Mieville is quite good as are all of his books.

RedChair | January 30, 2007 02:02 AM

The 1040 Instructions patiently await on a bookshelf... I think that's as close as I'll get to them - they're next to the remote, and the digital tribe of loosely connected acquaintances are dying to do their illuminated pixel dance for me.

Djscman | January 30, 2007 02:07 AM

Currently reading Robert Graves' "The White Goddess", and I have been for quite some time. It's too cool to completely abandon, although a wiki search tells me that it's debunked.

I just finished Pratchett's "The Color of Magic", and that was pretty good. Nice pastiche of Leiber and Vance, but funnier. I understand there are some Discworld sequels, so I might try them next.

Then there are the classics not yet read, but I oughtta. Here's a true college story: I once took a high-level Shakespeare class, and one day the professor told us about a party he'd recently been to (or maybe it was a joke he'd heard?). The partygoers had decided to play a little game called "What I Haven't Read". Like Truth or Dare but way stuffier, it was supposed to reveal how those academics transgressed the dominant lore-based paradigm by reveling in the apotheosis of their concealed ignorance. That is, everyone would reveal something in the canon that they--gasp! shock!--never read. "I never read Ulysses!" "I never read War and Peace." "I never read The Sound and The Fury." "No Austen, ever!" "I only got through the first chapter of Chuzzlewit!" Finally someone said, "I never read Hamlet."

"And that," my professor said, "brought the game to a crashing halt, because no one could imagine not having read Hamlet. An embarrased silence ensued." My class broke out laughing. I joined in...but warily, for I too had never read Hamlet.

WichitaJack | January 30, 2007 03:08 AM

I have a few favorites I have been thinking about re-reading:
Boy's Life by Robert McCammon - perhaps my all-time favorite book.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - very long, but very very good.
Steven Brust's Jhereg series - I devoured the first four or five books in this series and then I stopped for some reason. I'd like to read the new books, but it's been so long I think I will start over from the beginning.

I'm currently in the middle of the Peshawar Lancers by S. M. Stirling and The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century.

I'm also in the middle of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, but I don't think I will finish it. I stopped reading it about a month ago and have not felt the urge to return.

| January 30, 2007 03:44 AM

I also have "1491" on my shelf waiting to be read, but it's in the company of about 50 books I've bought and haven't got around to reading. I guess my eyes are too big for my... eyes. My eyes for seeing things to buy as opposed to my eyes for reading them I mean.

"Empires of the World: A language History of the World" by Nicholas Ostler is the book I have that I most want to read. The very premise of it makes languages seem like living creatures, caught up in the same evolutionary struggle that we all are. That's fascinating to me.

Fiction wise I have "Wintersmith" by Pratchett still to read, but I've been wanting to read "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell since I heard about it and now it sits on my shelf, calling to me. On the back it says it's a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future. I like epic, so it seems to fit. If it's half as good as the reviews, it'll be excellent. But, I have books on loan from people to read first.

Joe Walker | January 30, 2007 07:21 AM

I found a book I thought I had read, one I had even discussed with others, but when I picked it up to re-read it the other day, I realized I'd never actually read it: For Whom the Bell Tolls. Embarrassing.
Jeffrey: You can't go wrong with Travis McGee. I recently finished reading the entire series, in order. I'm not quite sure why John D. doesn't get more credit. I would argue for the series being the best in detective fiction.

John | January 30, 2007 07:56 AM

Joe, I had the exact same thing happen to me last week. My wife (English teacher) and I were talking about For Whom the Bell Tolls and I realized that I was confusing it with A Farewell To Arms and have never read the other. I suck, and this must be corrected. So that goes on my list as well.

Tapetum | January 30, 2007 08:31 AM

I'll happily read everybody else's piles (excepting the ones I already have/have read). Right now the only thing waiting for me to read it is books 2,3,8 and 11 of Terry Goodkind's series, gifted to me by my mother for Christmas. Well, actually, she gave me books 3,8 and 11, I got 1 and 2 so I might have some clue about what was going on. I doubt I'd bother, but she keeps asking how I like them, and I've read everything else in the house.

I do have a six page Amazon wish-list. So why do all my friends and relatives insist on getting me books that aren't on it, and that they haven't read themselves?

Fedge | January 30, 2007 08:35 AM

I got a list for you. Books I have been meaning to read.

Songmaster, Wyrms, Ships of Earth, Earthfall, Earthborn: all by Orson Scott Card.

LoveLock by Card and K. Kidd,

Starship Troopers by Heinlein,

Cusp by Robert A. Metzger,

Engines of God by Jack McDevitt,

Greeting & Other Stories by Terry Bisson. Most of these books were pushed because I was reading Scalzi books. I just finished Agent to the Stars, and I breathlessly await The Last Colony.

Pat J | January 30, 2007 08:51 AM

I've been reading the Poetic Edda (aka the Elder Edda) for the last couple of years, and I'd really like to finish it.

I've just begun reading Titus Groan, and I'm finally into the rhythm of the story.

I'd dearly love to read American Gods by Neil Gaiman. One of these days...

Eric R. | January 30, 2007 09:41 AM

The supposedly upcoming novel from Mary Doria Russell, Dreamers of the Day.

James Nicoll | January 30, 2007 10:12 AM

WARHOON 28, which collects a vast amount of material by Walter Willis. I've owned it for years and have only got a little way into it.

The problem is that it is inconveniently sized and after a little while of reading it, my wrists begin to hurt.

James Nicoll | January 30, 2007 10:15 AM

WARHOON 28, which collects a vast amount of material by Walter Willis. I've owned it for years and have only got a little way into it.

The problem is that it is inconveniently sized and after a little while of reading it, my wrists begin to hurt.

James Nicoll | January 30, 2007 10:32 AM

Sorry, I have no idea why that got posted twice.

Anonymous | January 30, 2007 10:58 AM

The man who started the thread has yet to add his "meaning to read" books.

Jim Wright (who's still jetlagged and grumpy) | January 30, 2007 01:09 PM

I'll add a couple more to my list:

Need to read the last two of Barry Sadler's "Casca" series. Also want to reread the first one, which is by far the best of the bunch.

And just finished Julie Phillip's "James Tiptree Jr, the Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon" last night. Excellent biography, damned depressing woman though, Alice. Wonder what she'd have been like without the speed and some decent modern depression treatment.

Corey Porter | January 30, 2007 01:28 PM

_A Canticle for Leibowitz_, _The Sun Also Rises_ and _Naked Lunch_.

Sara | January 30, 2007 03:51 PM

Sadly these have all been in my tbr pile for... ok, I'll admit it, years:

  • Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5
  • PK Dick's The Man in the High Castle
  • Pratchett's The Color of Magic

There are others, but those are the ones giving me the most guilt today.

Johnny Carruthers | January 30, 2007 04:06 PM

At the moment, I'm in the middle of reading the SPACE CADETS anthology that LACon 4 published.

Nina A | January 30, 2007 05:32 PM

I am kind of ashamed to admit it,but ok.
'Lies of Locke Lamora' by Scott Lynch (I just feel horribly bad about not having gotten to it yet for Hugo nomination purposes) and Scar Night by Alan Campbell. Bad nominator! No cookies for you!!!

Randomscrub | January 30, 2007 06:40 PM

I just finished Stirling's A Meeting at Corvallis (that was an amazing series!), and am now working on A Feast For Crows.

On the "To Read" list:

The Left Hand of Darkness
The Diamond Age
Two Treatises on Government
The Constitution of Liberty
Le Morte D'Arthur
Paradise Lost

and many, many others I just can't think of at the moment.

Scott Elyard | January 30, 2007 08:18 PM

It's all nonfiction:

Dinosaurs of the Air: The Evolution and Loss of Flight in Dinosaurs and Birds
by Gregory S. Paul

Oceans Of Kansas: A Natural History Of The Western Interior Sea (Life of the Past)
by Michael J. Everhart

Evolution of the Insects
by David Grimaldi, Michael S. Engel

jkr | January 31, 2007 09:04 AM

Currently top of the pile:

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife

Elizabeth Bear, Carnival and The Chains That You Refuse

Daniel J. Levitin, This Is Your Brain On Music

Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery and Cecilia

Susannah Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Nagib Mahfouz, The Palace Walk (not what I'd usually read, but a discussion on NPR when Mahfouz died last year caught my attention, and last week this one showed up on a freebie pile...)

ordinarygirl: have you read Player of Games? I found that the most enjoyable Banks so far, though Use of Weapons is indeed amazing.

Jeffery: I liked the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin series even better than Master and Commander.

Tucker: agree completely on Cryptonomicon (and on Snow Crash).

John, thanks for asking the question--it's great to see what everybody's reading.

Shrike58 | January 31, 2007 10:43 AM

Kill Bambi. Kill Bambi now.

ordinarygirl | January 31, 2007 10:14 PM

Yes, yes. Player of Games was the first Banks book I read and I'll admit it probably ties Use of Weapons as my favorite. I've read about 5 so far, I think and they've all been good.

Stu Reeve | February 2, 2007 07:56 AM

I finally bought and read a Raymond Chandler. (The Little Sister,1949) The plot is impenetratable. The narrative and dialogue are schizophrenic. All in all the books fluctuate between self righteous 50's puritanism, and overtly misogynistic sexual bohemia, which 60 years later is only comical. Incidentally about a 1/4 of the book revolves around the lighting, smoking and stubbing of cigarettes, so if it was written in today's PC world it would be 60 pages shorter.

I loved it.

Chandler's turn of phrase and descriptors are as unexpected, as they are delicious.

Chapter 22 pg 149 "I got up on my feet. I was as dizzy as dervish, as weak as a worn-out washer, as low as a badger's belly, as timid as a titmouse, and as unlikely to succeed as a ballet dancer with a wooden leg".

It's a damm fine book.

Craig Mitton | February 3, 2007 09:17 AM

On The Road; no, I'm not going to spell his last name this early in the morning on a Saturday.

Learnl Jones | February 22, 2007 09:42 PM

As with everyone else, there are so many books that I'd like to read.....so little time these days.
I'd like to be able to get through the "Preacher" series at some point. Got through the first two volumes and stopped. I'd also like to get through " Blood Meridian", but that book reads awfully hard. And lastly, all the Alex Cross books after "Roses are Red".

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