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Challenges

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My 2007 reading challenge was to read one of my favourite sf novels each month. Done that. (I’m currently in the middle of Samuel R Delany’s Dhalgren, the last of the twelve, but I’ll have it finished by the end of December.) For 2008, I thought about doing the same for my favourite non-sf novels… except I couldn’t think of twelve favourite mainstream books. There’s The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell… The Master Mariner, Nicholas Monsarrat… How Far Can You Go?, David Lodge… The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe… and… Gah. That’s about it. There are others I’d like to reread – Anthony Burgess’ Earthly Powers, for example – but I don’t know that I like them enough to call them a favourite.

So, I came up with a different cunning plan. In 2008, each month I will read a book by a classic and/or literary author I have not read. (This is where bookmooch has come in really useful.) So far, I have Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway, Patricia Highsmith, Joseph Conrad, DH Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf. I also want to try, but have yet to pick up books by, Ayn Rand, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Ford Madox Ford, and Wyndham Lewis. And, er, someone else. I suspect that list might change as the year progresses.

Sometime during 2008, I also might try watching one of my favourite films each night over a fortnight. Science fiction one month, non-sf the next month. And these films would be:

Alien, dir. Ridley Scott [1979]
Delicatessen, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro [1991]
Brazil, dir. Terry Gilliam [1984]
Dune, dir. David Lynch [1985]
Fahrenheit 451, dir. Francois Truffaut [1966]
Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow, dir. Kerry Conran [2004]
Solaris, dir. Andrei Tarkovsky [1972]
Star Trek: the Motion Picture, dir. Robert Wise [1979]
Until the End of the World, dir. Wim Wenders [1991]
Starship Troopers, dir. Paul Verhoeven [1997]

Divine Intervention, dir. Elia Suleiman [2002]
To Catch A Thief, dir. Alfred Hitchcock [1954]
Sliding Doors, dir. Peter Hewitt [1997]
Man Bites Dog, dir. Belvoir, Bonzel & Poelvoorde [1992]
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, dir. Tom Stoppard [1990]
Das Boot, dir. Wolfgang Petersen [1985]
Lawrence of Arabia, dir. David Lean [1962]
No End, dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski [1984]
The Right Stuff, dir. Philip Kaufman [1983]
Leningrad Cowboys Go America, dir. Aki Kaurismäki [1989]

Oh, and I have to read at least one book from space books collection each month, and review it on my other blog.

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6 thoughts on “Challenges

  1. Good luck with the challenges, although you might want to rethink punishing yourself with James Joyce. A few years ago I decided I should read some of the more literary classics in the furtherance of becoming more well read. After several months I concluded that I’d prefer to read books I wanted to read rather than those I thought I should read, not enough time to do both. If I’m going to spend time on classics I should have read I’ll concentrate on the SF ones.

  2. A fair point. But I’m under no obligation to finish a book on my list. If I don’t like it, I’ll just pick another one.I do actually want to read these books as well – if only partly to improve my own appreciation of fiction.

  3. Why not open up the film viewings and invite a few mates round, make a night of it. I’ve never seen Alien for example, and you can also go for the record of most geeks in the smallest space too.

  4. Never seen Alien?! What planet have you been living on? Not LV-426 obviously :-)

  5. Glad to see someone else who list Sky Captain among their favorites. I think this is a wonderful film that I love to pull out and rewatch, and so many people I know just cannot stand it. Cretins! ;)

  6. I think Conran was a little too rigorous in his homage to 1930s pulp sf… which is why the film didn’t do so well. Modern audiences demand modern story-telling, and the great visuals weren’t enough for them.

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