It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

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The 2009 Reading Challenge


This’ll be the third year I’ve done a reading challenge. I never intended them to be an ongoing annual thing. But they’ve been fun so far (well, mostly), so why not?

In 2007, I reread my favourite science fiction novels: Undercover Aliens, AE van Vogt; The Ophiuchi Hotline, John Varley; Stations of the Tide, Michael Swanwick; Where Time Winds Blow, Robert Holdstock; Soldier, Ask Not, Gordon R Dickson; Kairos, Gwyneth Jones; Against A Dark Background, Iain M Banks; Metrophage, Richard Kadrey; Coelestis, Paul Park; Dune, Frank Herbert; Take Back Plenty, Colin Greenland; and Dhalgren, Samuel R Delany.

In 2008, I read (or tried to read) classic novels by authors I’d not read before: The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith; From Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway; Kim, Rudyard Kipling; A Question of Upbringing, Anthony Powell; Orlando, Virginia Woolf; Nostromo, Joseph Conrad; The Garden Party & Other Stories, Katherine Mansfield; My Family & Other Animals, Gerald Durrell; The Jewel in the Crown, Paul Scott; The Good Soldier, Ford Madox Ford; On The Road, Jack Kerouac; and The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand.

For 2009, I’m going to reread twelve science fiction classics. These are books I’ve not read for a long time – decades, in fact, in several cases. The list is a little idiosyncratic, for good reason. First, my taste in books is a little idiosyncratic. Second, I have very low opinions of some books which are considered sf classics, such as Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. Third, some sf classics I’ve already reread in the past few years – for example, I reread Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun last year (see here), the aforementioned Dune in 2007 (see here), Bester’s The Stars My Destination a few years before that, and likewise Pohl’s Gateway… And finally, some on the list might only be considered minor classics, but I wanted to reread them anyway. So there.

The list goes like this (in order of year of publication):

I’ll not be reading them in the above order – I’ll just pick and choose what I feel like reading each month. Quite a few I’ll admit I’m looking forward to. One or two I suspect might prove a chore (that’ll be Stranger in a Strange Land and Second Stage Lensman, then). But you never know. And some might turn out to be less fun than I remember. But that’s the nature of these sort of things. And part of the fun, too. As before, each month I’ll write about the book I’ve read.

7 thoughts on “The 2009 Reading Challenge

  1. Looks like a very fun challenge. I love seeing The Stainless Steel Rat on there, that has been a favorite since I discovered it on my uncle’s bookshelf as a young boy. I read the Foundation series last year for the first time and was pretty blown away by it. I can certainly see why it is a series that can generate lots of differing opinions. For me it was not at all what I expected and I was really sucked into the story and ended up being very pleased with the experience of reading it.Ringworld and Rendezvous with Rama are both books I would like to get to this year. I am currently rereading The Stars My Destination, which I read for the first time a couple of years ago. Bester is the man!

  2. The Stars My Destination is certainly a book I’d happily describe as a “classic”. But I’m apparently in a minority by hating Bester’s other classic novel, The Demolished Man.

  3. Pingback: Advance warning: my reading challenge for 2010 « It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

  4. Pingback: 2009 Reading Challenge #2 – Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C Clarke « It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

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