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What to read next year?

books
In the last couple of years I've been tremendously helped by the start-of-year poll asking which books from my unread shelf you all have read. I guess my logic for this is that I basically trust the literary judgement of my friends and other readers, and am interested to know what in particular from my sagging shelves I might look at next. (I also have been using two other mechanisms for choosing in each of the three categories below, popularity among LibraryThing users and longevity on my shelves). So I will once again be grateful to any and all who fill in this poll.

Apologies in advance to editors listed below as authors, or co-authors and co-editors whose names are omitted; this is scraped from my LibraryThing catalogue so some important details do get lost. Any miscategorisation, however, is entirely my fault and cannot be blamed on software.

Poll #1662282
This poll is closed.
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 105

Which of these 122 sf works have you read?

View Answers
Mervyn Peake: Gormenghast Trilogy
39 (5.8%)
Guy Gavriel Kay: A Song for Arbonne
25 (3.7%)
Alastair Reynolds: Chasm City
8 (1.2%)
Nora Roberts: Heart of the Sea
4 (0.6%)
Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto
12 (1.8%)
Jacqueline Carey: Kushiel's Justice
5 (0.7%)
Christopher Tolkien: The Lays of Beleriand
7 (1.0%)
Eric Flint: 1632
11 (1.6%)
Robert Holdstock: Mythago Wood
22 (3.3%)
Tim Powers: Last Call
19 (2.8%)
Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher, And Other Stories
38 (5.6%)
Lori Handeland: Any Given Doomsday
2 (0.3%)
Christopher Tolkien: The Shaping of Middle-earth
8 (1.2%)
J. R. R. Tolkien: Letters from Father Christmas
15 (2.2%)
Philippa Pearce: Tom's Midnight Garden
29 (4.3%)
Jacqueline Carey: Kushiel's Mercy
4 (0.6%)
China Mieville: Looking for Jake and Other Stories
12 (1.8%)
Eoin Colfer: And Another Thing ...
4 (0.6%)
Lois Mcmaster Bujold: The Sharing Knife: Passage
18 (2.7%)
Muhsin Mahdi: The Arabian Nights
3 (0.4%)
Terry Pratchett: I Shall Wear Midnight
17 (2.5%)
Maureen F. McHugh: China Mountain Zhang
21 (3.1%)
Alastair Reynolds: Galactic North
9 (1.3%)
Iain Banks: Transition
14 (2.1%)
Paul Park: A Princess of Roumania
6 (0.9%)
J.R.R. Tolkien: Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun
3 (0.4%)
Selma Lagerlof: The Wonderful Adventures of Nils
7 (1.0%)
Lois Mcmaster Bujold: The Sharing Knife: Horizon
15 (2.2%)
Jacqueline Carey: Godslayer
2 (0.3%)
Elizabeth Hand: Waking the Moon
10 (1.5%)
Ysabeau S. Wilce: Flora Segunda
14 (2.1%)
John Updike: Toward the End of Time
1 (0.1%)
Lisa Carey: The Mermaids Singing
1 (0.1%)
Katherine Kurtz: Dagger Magic
4 (0.6%)
Ursula Le Guin: Powers
9 (1.3%)
Peter Dickinson: Eva
7 (1.0%)
Lucy Hawking: George's Secret Key to the Universe
0 (0.0%)
Jo Walton: Ha'penny
15 (2.2%)
Clifford D. Simak: Shakespeare's Planet
5 (0.7%)
Greg Bear: City at the End of Time
4 (0.6%)
Jack McDevitt: Cauldron
1 (0.1%)
Poul Anderson: There Will be Time
10 (1.5%)
James Tiptree: Up the Walls of the World
11 (1.6%)
Ismail Kadare: The Palace of Dreams
1 (0.1%)
Robert Silverberg: Thorns
8 (1.2%)
Gardner Dozois: The Year's Best Science Fiction 24 (2007)
4 (0.6%)
Kim Stanley Robinson: Galileo's Dream
1 (0.1%)
Gardner Dozois: The Year's Best Science Fiction 25 (2008)
2 (0.3%)
Bill Willingham: Fables Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover
4 (0.6%)
Molly Gloss: Wild Life
3 (0.4%)
Ian Mcdonald: Cyberabad Days
7 (1.0%)
C.E. Murphy: The Queen's Bastard
4 (0.6%)
Cornelia Funke: When Santa Fell to Earth
0 (0.0%)
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough: The Godmother's Apprentice
3 (0.4%)
Marcel Theroux: Far North
4 (0.6%)
Jack London: Star Rover
0 (0.0%)
Diana Wynne Jones: Stopping for a Spell
11 (1.6%)
Theodore Roszak: The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein
0 (0.0%)
Gwyneth Jones: White Queen
11 (1.6%)
Geronimo Stilton: De piraten van de Zilveren Kattenklauw
0 (0.0%)
Gillian Cross: The Demon Headmaster
13 (1.9%)
Jo Walton: Half a Crown
13 (1.9%)
Kage Baker: The Empress of Mars
1 (0.1%)
George Mann: The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction 2007
1 (0.1%)
Suzy McKee Charnas: Motherlines
7 (1.0%)
Andrew M. Greeley: The Magic Cup
3 (0.4%)
Guy de Maupassant: Contes Fantastiques Complets
2 (0.3%)
David G. Hartwell: Year's Best SF 12 (2007)
2 (0.3%)
Ian Watson: The Jonah Kit
5 (0.7%)
Ian Watson: The Martian Inca
7 (1.0%)
David Marusek: Mind Over Ship
2 (0.3%)
Clamp: RG Veda Volume 3
2 (0.3%)
Fumi Yoshinaga: Ooku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 2
3 (0.4%)
Charles Sheffield: Putting up Roots
0 (0.0%)
Brian Aldiss: Moment of Eclipse
0 (0.0%)
Gwyneth Jones: North Wind
3 (0.4%)
Ian McDonald: Speaking in Tongues
6 (0.9%)
Richard Burton, Sir: Tales from the Arabian Nights
6 (0.9%)
Paul Hazel: Yearwood
1 (0.1%)
Ian Watson: Miracle Visitors
4 (0.6%)
Lucy Hawking: George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt
0 (0.0%)
Charles Coleman Finlay: The Prodigal Troll
0 (0.0%)
Gwyneth Jones: Phoenix Cafe
5 (0.7%)
Alan E Nourse: The Universe Between
4 (0.6%)
James Patrick Kelly: The Secret History of Science Fiction
1 (0.1%)
Terry Carr: The Best Science Fiction of the Year #4
3 (0.4%)
Juliet E. McKenna: Western Shore
1 (0.1%)
Kingsley Amis: Spectrum: A Science Fiction Anthology: No. 4
5 (0.7%)
Morgan Llywelyn: Irish Magic II
2 (0.3%)
Roger Zelazny: This Mortal Mountain - Volume 3: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny
2 (0.3%)
Peter Haining: Irish Tales of Terror
0 (0.0%)
Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock: Other Edens: No. 1
4 (0.6%)
Valerius Flaccus: Argonautica
0 (0.0%)
Roger Zelazny: Last Exit to Babylon - Volume 4: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny
3 (0.4%)
Rich Horton: Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2007
1 (0.1%)
Paul Brandon: The Wild Reel
0 (0.0%)
Gwyneth Jones: Spirit
6 (0.9%)
Charles Barnitz: The Deepest Sea
0 (0.0%)
The Mahabharata
5 (0.7%)
Colin Harvey: Winter Song
2 (0.3%)
John Clute: 2nd Interzone Anthology
2 (0.3%)
Mike McCormack: Crowe's Requiem
0 (0.0%)
Editors of Playboy: Transit of Earth
1 (0.1%)
Jerry Sohl: The Time Dissolver
0 (0.0%)
Peter Emshwiller: The Host
1 (0.1%)
Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock: Other Edens: No. 2
3 (0.4%)
Ian Watson: Oracle
1 (0.1%)
James Weldon Johnson: Daystar and Shadow
0 (0.0%)
Rich Horton: The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2010
1 (0.1%)
Shaun Hutson: Hybrid
0 (0.0%)
Charles Ryan: Starry messenger: The best of Galileo
0 (0.0%)
Michael Armstrong: The Hidden War
0 (0.0%)
Blaine Anderson: Heartspell
0 (0.0%)
Brian Hayles: Moon Stallion
2 (0.3%)
Joyce A. Tyldesley: Stories from Ancient Egypt
1 (0.1%)
Rebecca Levene: Anno Mortis
0 (0.0%)
Lucian of Samosata: Trips to the Moon
0 (0.0%)
Sara Maitland: Far North & Other Dark Tales
1 (0.1%)
Paul Kincaid: British Science Fiction & Fantasy: Twenty Years, Two Surveys
4 (0.6%)
Gerald Whelan: Out of Nowhere
0 (0.0%)
Joann Sfar: Le Chat du Rabbin, Tome 1 :
0 (0.0%)
Simon Petrie: Rare Unsigned Copy
0 (0.0%)

Which of these 82 non-sf works of fiction have you read?

View Answers
Jostein Gaarder: Sophie's World
28 (4.4%)
Mary Ann Shaffer: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
8 (1.2%)
Charles Frazier: Cold Mountain
16 (2.5%)
Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
16 (2.5%)
Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Idiot
18 (2.8%)
Jhumpa Lahiri: The Namesake
8 (1.2%)
Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
19 (3.0%)
D. H. Lawrence: Lady Chatterley's Lover
36 (5.6%)
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom's Cabin
22 (3.4%)
F.Scott Fitzgerald: Tender is the Night
9 (1.4%)
Sir Walter Scott: Ivanhoe
26 (4.1%)
D.H. Lawrence: Sons and Lovers
20 (3.1%)
Giovanni Boccaccio: The Decameron
24 (3.8%)
Stendhal: The Red and the Black
12 (1.9%)
Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones
20 (3.1%)
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Complete Sherlock Holmes
56 (8.8%)
Franz Kafka: The Castle
17 (2.7%)
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The House of the Seven Gables
13 (2.0%)
Daniel Defoe: Moll Flanders
17 (2.7%)
Fyodor M. Dostoyevsky: The Devils
7 (1.1%)
DBC Pierre: Vernon God Little
8 (1.2%)
Marilynne Robinson: Housekeeping
3 (0.5%)
Tracy Chevalier: The Lady and the Unicorn
2 (0.3%)
Honore Balzac: Old Goriot
9 (1.4%)
Thomas Mann: Death in Venice
15 (2.3%)
Meg Cabot: The Princess Diaries
16 (2.5%)
Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks
5 (0.8%)
Katherine Paterson: Jacob Have I Loved
11 (1.7%)
Henry James: Washington Square
6 (0.9%)
Pat Conroy: Beach Music
2 (0.3%)
Knut Hamsun: Hunger
3 (0.5%)
Gustave Flaubert: A Sentimental Education
5 (0.8%)
Rumi: Essential Rumi
0 (0.0%)
Charles Lamb: Tales of Shakespeare
15 (2.3%)
Patrick O'Brian: Desolation Island
17 (2.7%)
Leo Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilyich
6 (0.9%)
Cynthia Lord: Rules
1 (0.2%)
Italo Svevo: Confession of Zeno
2 (0.3%)
Nikos Kazantzakis: Zorba the Greek
3 (0.5%)
Kate Grenville: The Secret River
1 (0.2%)
Ernest Hemingway: Islands In The Stream
3 (0.5%)
Charlotte Bronte: The Professor
10 (1.6%)
Marilynne Robinson: Home
1 (0.2%)
Halldor Laxness: Independent People
0 (0.0%)
Michelle Magorian: Goodnight Mister Tom
17 (2.7%)
Mika Waltari: The Egyptian
4 (0.6%)
Luther Blissett: Q
2 (0.3%)
Ernest Hemingway: Across the River and into the Trees
1 (0.2%)
Dorothy Dunnett: Niccolo Rising
13 (2.0%)
Anita Shreve: Resistance
1 (0.2%)
Aldous Huxley: Eyeless in Gaza
9 (1.4%)
Siri Hustvedt: The Sorrows of an American
0 (0.0%)
The Onion: The Onion's Our Dumb World: Atlas of the Planet Earth
6 (0.9%)
Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
1 (0.2%)
Dorothy Dunnett: The Spring of the Ram
11 (1.7%)
Ian Rankin: A Good Hanging and other stories
4 (0.6%)
Herta Muller: Land of Green Plums
1 (0.2%)
Rudyard Kipling: The Light That Failed
7 (1.1%)
Willem Elsschot: Cheese
2 (0.3%)
Joanna Trollope: Brother and Sister
1 (0.2%)
J. M. G. Le Clezio: Desert
1 (0.2%)
Scott Adams: Lichaamstaal wordt banaal (When Body Language Goes Bad)
0 (0.0%)
Tove Jansson: The True Deceiver
1 (0.2%)
Jacqueline Wilson: Girls in Love
5 (0.8%)
Roald Dahl: Rhyme Stew
4 (0.6%)
Mitali Perkins: The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen
0 (0.0%)
Freya North: Home Truths
1 (0.2%)
Bessie Head: Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales
0 (0.0%)
Jane Haddam: Quoth the Raven
1 (0.2%)
Jef Geeraerts: The Public Prosecutor
1 (0.2%)
Jane Haddam: Dear Old Dead
1 (0.2%)
Andrew M. Greeley: Wages of Sin
2 (0.3%)
Heinrich Boll: Children are Civilians Too
0 (0.0%)
Luis Leante: See How Much I Love You
0 (0.0%)
Dennis Pepper: The Oxford Book of Christmas Stories
1 (0.2%)
Gaius Valerius Catullus: From Bed to Bed
3 (0.5%)
Sibylline: Eerste keer
0 (0.0%)
Barbara Stok: Barbaraal tot op het bot
0 (0.0%)
Joann Sfar: Le Chat du Rabbin, Tome 1
1 (0.2%)
Anton Chekhov: The Undiscovered Chekhov
0 (0.0%)
David Walliams: Billionaire Boy
2 (0.3%)
Maureen O'Brien: Every Step You Take
0 (0.0%)

And which of these 92 non-fiction books have you read?

View Answers
Thucydides: The History of the Peloponnesian War
19 (17.6%)
Frederick Douglass: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
11 (10.2%)
Stephen Jay Gould: Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
5 (4.6%)
Mark Halperin: Race of a Lifetime
0 (0.0%)
Maryanne Wolf: Proust and the Squid
0 (0.0%)
Karen Armstrong: The Bible: The Biography
3 (2.8%)
Stephen Jay Gould: Questioning the Millennium.
8 (7.4%)
Ammon Shea: Reading the Oxford English Dictionary
2 (1.9%)
Gunter Grass: Peeling the Onion
1 (0.9%)
Diarmaid MacCulloch: A History of Christianity
0 (0.0%)
M. I. Finley: The Portable Greek Historians
2 (1.9%)
Graham Farmelo: The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius
0 (0.0%)
Joanna Russ: How to Suppress Women's Writing
18 (16.7%)
John E. Wills: 1688: A Global History
0 (0.0%)
Katherine Ashenburg: Clean: An Unsanitised History of Washing
2 (1.9%)
Ronald Hutton: Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain
1 (0.9%)
Michael Ignatieff: Isaiah Berlin: A Life
0 (0.0%)
Kate Adie: The Kindness of Strangers
0 (0.0%)
David Day: A Guide to Tolkien
2 (1.9%)
Van Wyck Brooks: The Flowering of New England-1815-1865
1 (0.9%)
Lyn Davies: A is for Ox
0 (0.0%)
Jane Hirshfield: Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry
0 (0.0%)
Sara Maitland: A Book of Silence
0 (0.0%)
John D. Rateliff: The History of the Hobbit: Mr Baggins v. 1
0 (0.0%)
Philip Mansel: Constantinople
0 (0.0%)
Van Wyck Brooks: The World of Washington Irving
0 (0.0%)
Christopher Chabris: The Invisible Gorilla
0 (0.0%)
Ian Rankin: Rebus's Scotland: A Personal Journey
1 (0.9%)
John Rateliff: The History of the Hobbit: Return to Bag-End v. 2
0 (0.0%)
Brigid Keenan: Diplomatic Baggage
1 (0.9%)
Anne Chambers: Granuaile
0 (0.0%)
Neil D. Isaacs: Understanding the Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism
0 (0.0%)
Diagram Group: How to Hold a Crocodile
0 (0.0%)
Ruth Padel: 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem
1 (0.9%)
Stuart Maconie: Adventures on the High Teas: In Search of Middle England
0 (0.0%)
J. B. Black: The Reign of Elizabeth 1556-1603
1 (0.9%)
C. Haigh: Elizabeth I
0 (0.0%)
Richard Berleth: The Twilight Lords
0 (0.0%)
James Long: The Plot Against Pepys
0 (0.0%)
Lynne M. Thomas: Chicks Dig Time Lords
5 (4.6%)
Julia Keay: Alexander the Corrector
0 (0.0%)
Michael White: Isaac Asimov: A Life of the Grand Master of Science Fiction
0 (0.0%)
Christopher Haigh: The Cambridge Historical Encyclopedia of Great Britain and Ireland
0 (0.0%)
Sean O'Faolain: The Great O'Neill
1 (0.9%)
Dave Rogers: Prisoner
0 (0.0%)
Adam Jacot de Boinod: Toujours Tingo
0 (0.0%)
Joseph Perez: History of the Spanish Inquisition
0 (0.0%)
Thomas Hylland Eriksen: A History of Anthropology
1 (0.9%)
Stephen Baxter: Ages in Chaos: James Hutton and the Discovery of Deep Time
0 (0.0%)
Daniel Jaffee: Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival
0 (0.0%)
Farah Mendlesohn: Diana Wynne Jones
3 (2.8%)
Mary Wollstonecraft: The Rights of Woman - and - On The Subjection of Women (Everyman's Library No. 825)
9 (8.3%)
Ian Hislop: Private Eye Annual 2008
2 (1.9%)
Roger D. Woodard: The Ancient Languages of Europe
0 (0.0%)
Daria Price Bowman: Presentations
0 (0.0%)
Anthony Giddens: Politics of Climate Change
1 (0.9%)
Nicholas Canny: Making Ireland British 1580-1650
0 (0.0%)
Cyril Falls: Elizabeth's Irish Wars
0 (0.0%)
Brian M. Fagan: The Complete Ice Age
0 (0.0%)
William Leith: Bits of Me are Falling Apart: Dark Thoughts from the Middle Years
0 (0.0%)
Judith Cook: Pirate Queen: The Life of Grace O'Malley, 1530-1603
0 (0.0%)
Alison Plowden: Elizabeth I
1 (0.9%)
John Pinder: European Community: The Building of a Union
0 (0.0%)
Stuart Murray: Representing Autism
0 (0.0%)
Michael Grosvenor: Green Living for Dummies
0 (0.0%)
Paul Kincaid: British Science Fiction & Fantasy: Twenty Years, Two Surveys
3 (2.8%)
T. W. Moody: A New History of Ireland, Volume III: Early Modern Ireland 1534-1691: Early Modern Ireland 1534-1691 v. 3
0 (0.0%)
Ciaran Brady: Interpreting Irish History: The Debate on Historical Revisionism 1938-1994
0 (0.0%)
Vince Cable: Free Radical
0 (0.0%)
Rosamond McKitterick: Edward Gibbon and Empire
0 (0.0%)
Stephen Schwartz: The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony
0 (0.0%)
Jeffrey Mazo: Climate Conflict: How global warming threatens security and what to do about it
0 (0.0%)
Brian Lunn: The Charm of Belgium
1 (0.9%)
Constance Wright: Fanny Kemble and the lovely land
0 (0.0%)
Peter C. Bayley: Spenser's The Faerie Queen - A Selection of Critical Essays
2 (1.9%)
Anna Robertson: No Going Back To Moldova
0 (0.0%)
Charles-James N. Bailey: Essays on Time-based Linguistic Analysis
0 (0.0%)
Graham Watson: Liberal Language: Speeches and Essays 1998-2003
0 (0.0%)
Janusz Bugajski: Expanding Eurasia
0 (0.0%)
Karin Arts: International Law and the Question of Western Sahara
0 (0.0%)
Alexandros Lordos: A People's Peace for Cyprus
0 (0.0%)
Costas M. Constantinou: On the Way to Diplomacy
0 (0.0%)
Twigs Way: Virgins, Weeders and Queens: A History of Women in the Garden
0 (0.0%)
Laura Raynolds: Fair Trade: The Challenges of Transforming Globalization
0 (0.0%)
Graham Watson: The Case for Global Democracy: Advocating a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly
0 (0.0%)
BBC Northern Ireland: Legacy: A Collection of Personal Testimonies from People Affected by the Troubles in Northern Ireland
0 (0.0%)
Patrick J. Devlieger: Between structure and No-thing: An annotated reader in Social and Cultural Anthropology
0 (0.0%)
Michalis Stavrou Michael: Resolving the Cyprus Conflict: Negotiating History
0 (0.0%)
Richard Werly: Travel Green Thailand: An ecotourism journey
0 (0.0%)
Maurna Crozier: What Made Now in Northern Ireland
0 (0.0%)
Twigs Way: A Crocodile in the Fernery: An A-Z of Animals in the Garden
0 (0.0%)
Brendan Bradshaw: The Irish Constitutional Revolution of the Sixteenth Century
0 (0.0%)


As ever, particular recommendations of what to read (or avoid) very welcome in comments.

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
girfan
Dec. 30th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC)
I ticked Castle of Otranto but don't recommend it. It was a book club selection that I really disliked.
bellinghman
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:04 pm (UTC)
You have presumably read Jo Walton's Farthing, so Ha'Penny and Half a Crown should be pushing themselves to the front.

(And I did like Queen's Bastard. mizkit getting an almost GGK voice.)
communicator
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC)
China Mountain Zhang and Goodnight Mr Tom are my recommendations from that list - humane books
mscongeniality
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC)
There's a lot more of those books on my 'To be Read' pile than I've actually read. There are few enough of them, so here's my thoughts on the ones I checked:

Guy Gavriel Kay: A Song for Arbonne Not his best, but a decent historical fantasy.

Fumi Yoshinaga: Ooku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 2 I love this series and cannot recommend the available volumes enough. I think Volumes 2-3 were awesome. Vol 4 was also excellent, but had a slightly different focus.

Editors of Playboy: Transit of Earth As with any short story collection, a mixed bag. I really did enjoy this over all, possibly more than I was expecting for such a slim collection, and it was a great reminder that Playboy used to publish the best science fiction.

Peter Emshwiller: The Host Not a great book, but there were some interesting ideas in there.

Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom's Cabin Excels as abolitionist propaganda but for me, a bit less successful as a novel. I think it was mainly because I tire of getting preached to very easily. It is, on the other hand, entirely worth reading.

Arthur Conan Doyle: The Complete Sherlock Holmes I've recently picked this back up and been making my way through it again in between other things. My father is also re-reading it for the first time in years. Definitely worth the time.

Katherine Paterson: Jacob Have I Loved I was probably 13 or 14 when I read this and remember it as being dark and melodramatic. I don't know if it actually is those things, or if it's worth reading as an adult.

Frederick Douglass: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Probably the best of the slave narratives that I've read, certainly the one with the most authentic authorial voice.
strange_complex
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
I read and reviewed The House of the Seven Gables a couple of years ago, and really enjoyed it. Otherwise, I've read so few of these that I can't really help very much I'm afraid!
sunnytyler001
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
Old Goriot is a pure work of art... but SO SAD! :(
jekesta
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)
Read everything by Alastair Reynolds and Kim Stanley Robinson. That's the best rule for happiness. I've never read Galileo's Dream but I bet it's awesome.

CHASM CITY. READ CHASM CITY. I don't even know how you can have that book near you and not be reading it. I LOVE IT. Have you read Revelation Space? A lot of people start with chasm city because people suggest it. I suggest reading EVERYTHING Alastair Reynolds has written, but in ORDER. But I am very weird about order and perhaps other people are right and you should just read what you want. Perhaps.
bibliofile
Jan. 13th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC)
I've started Galileo's Dream but didn't finish it, possibly because I was hoping for more SF and less historical (a time traveler visits Galileo and drops lots of hints). I intend to go back to it, though.

seawasp
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC)
I haven't read hardly anything new since 2003 -- when I became a writer, officially.

Of the few I ticked, I've read everything by Kafka because I had to proof an edition of his complete works (with commentary), and if you're looking for something depressing and hopeless, he's your man. I personally would rather watch the Star Wars Holiday Special again than go through that.

1632 was great fun, and so was its first sequel; I haven't had the time to read the continuations.

Mythago Wood simply failed to grab me. I think I got about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through and said the Eight Deadly Words and shut the book. I remember almost nothing else about it, which is fairly unusual for me.

I've read and loved Holmes since I was a little kid; I in fact read the complete Sherlock Holmes stories to my son as bedtime stories when he was about 9 or so.
bellinghman
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
I thought 1632 was great fun, and 1633 was OK. I'm not particularly grabbed by the thought of reading the rest of the series. I imagine they've fallen into the trap that each book needs to cover a year, no more, no less, which can be problematic. (c.f Harry Potter.)
seawasp
Dec. 30th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
Actually they appear to have started splitting up the years into multiple books since the ripple effect has started having major events happening all over the place, to the point that you couldn't FIT it all in one book.
bellinghman
Dec. 30th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
How sensible of them.

I'm also slightly worried by what papersky has elsewhere commented on the tendency of some series to go steadily downhill once they get beyond the initial setup and development.
papersky
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
I've heard other writers say this kind of thing, but it strikes me as really bizarre -- for one thing, getting isolated and out of touch with the field, and for another thing, suddenly abandoning a hobby of decades. Why did you do this?
seawasp
Dec. 30th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
Time and money. I have a wife and 4 kids. If I have the time and mental focus to read and understand a book, I have the time and mental focus to write. Plus books cost money, and I am loath to spend money on anything I'm not absolutely sure I'm going to like. In addition, my wife wants time with me, my kids want time with me, and the upshot is that with the addition of a new profession (SF Writer) something had to go to the back burner. And I have a few friends and such who have some claim on my social time. (And then there's the Annoying But Necessary Social Obligations which eat up a lot of my so-called spare time).

Sometimes I have time, but I'm mentally not up to inventing stuff, so then I do games.

If I were single and with no kids, hey, I'd be reading half the day and writing the other half.
rmc28
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
I ticked the Gormenghast trilogy but didn't like it much (was lent it by a young man I rather liked at school), and have never felt any inclination to reread it.

I enjoyed the Jacqueline Carey Banewreaker/Godslayer duo very much; I assume you have already read Banewreaker. I only discovered Carey this year (the first Kushiel trilogy) and have been working my way through the library stock.

Tom's Midnight Garden was a childhood favourite but I've not read it in 20 years.
raycun
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
I'd recommend Gormenghast and China Mountain Zhang, definitely.
Powers is ... I don't quite want to say minor Le Guin. Events are on a smaller scale than in some of her other books, and this is obviously deliberate. Does this mean the stories have less impact?
Invisible Man and Thucydides I find hard to rate. They are exactly what they are.
Thorns and Uncle Tom's Cabin I read too long ago to remember much of.
Vernon God Little I hated, threw it against the wall in record time.
chickenfeet2003
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed The Mahabharata
chess
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
The Demon Headmaster is very definitely a children's book but I still remember it (and the rest of the series) fondly.
nickbarnes
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
I ticked a number of not-particularly-good books in this poll.

My recommendation, as always, is to read O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books.

Happy New Year!
marnanel
Dec. 30th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
This sort of poll always makes me feel the very reverse of well-read. :(
kulfuldi
Dec. 30th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
Of the very few I've read,I particularly recommend the Decameron (surprisingly entertaining and readable, though a little bit repetitive in the end) and The Devils, and I unrecommend The Idiot (for me, Dostoyevsky is either absolutely amazing or really awful, and this is the latter - though I know there are those who love it) and Death in Venice (only grim determination made me finish, and it's short). Also, I liked 'Diplomatic Baggage' - should be required reading for diplomats, and I'm sure you know the husband.
steve_mollmann
Dec. 30th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
My only comment is that Buddenbrooks was my favorite novel of my teenage years, and rereading it as an adult showed me that I was entirely justified in that claim. I'd reread it every year if I had the time.
inulro
Dec. 30th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
I haven't got terribly strong feelings about any of the books I ticked. A lot of the general fiction is on my mental "to-read list" so I'll be interested to see what you think.

I think I've mentioned here before that I found Rebus' Scotland to be pretty much a waste of time, though not much time. And I say that as a dedicated Ian Rankin fan.

The Thycidides is a bit of a cheat - I read it in Ancient Greece 100 in 1986 and can't say I recall a lot. But I've been watching a lot of documentaries abou the ancient world lately and have been looking at my copy with intent.

I, OTOH, love The Castle of Otranto. Of course it's not good, but it's hilarious (I used to know whehter that was intentional). It's interesting and important if you're at all interested in the evolution of the novel in general and of horror/the fantastic in particular.

The Devils is one of the most difficult of Dostoyevky's works as it's the most tied in with contemporary political events. I read it in the context of a Russian history rather than literature class. Of course I would say you should read it because I love Dostoyevsky.
redfiona99
Dec. 30th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
Gormenghast is hard going. Worth it, I think, but hard going.

I enjoyed the Demon Headmaster.

RG Veda is on my to read list, but I'm not sure how much sense vol 3 would make without the previous volumes. Clamp like their convoluted plots.

My Mum's the Jane Haddam fan in the household, and I haven't read them but she adores them.
londonkds
Dec. 30th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
I usually like the Onion but hated their Our Dumb World to the point that I actually put it out for recycling instead of giving it to the charity shop. There could have been a good idea there if they'd spent time doing the research needed to actually comment on American's ideas of various nations versus what they actually are like, but instead it's a truly despicable piece of "ironically racist" humour that is indistinguishable from actual racist and xenophobic humour (everyone in Southern Africa is dying of AIDS - repeat for every single country, Thailand is a brothel on a national scale).
girfan
Dec. 30th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
I love the Gormenghast Trilogy and have read it at least 10 times since first reading it when I was 15. I also recommend the China Mieville books (obviously).
gareth_rees
Dec. 30th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
Titus Groan and Gormenghast are fabulously baroque and entertaining, but Titus Alone is a powerful depiction of loneliness and misery.

The Patrick O'Brian naval novels are great page-turners, with occasional flashes of brilliance, humour, and psychological insight. Desolation Island is, I think, the best of the whole sequence.

Thorns is from Silverberg's golden period, after he graduated from churning out pulp and before he descended into the pot-boilerdom of Lord Valentine's Castle and so forth. In this period he wrote half a dozen classic sf novels with tight plots, sharp morals, evocative settings and crisply-observed characters—To Live Forever, A Time of Changes, Dying Inside and a few others.

Ian Watson went on a similar trajectory to Silverberg (without the apprenticeship in pulp), and I think everything from his early period is worth reading. By turns intellectual, disturbing, and horrific. The Jonah Kit, The Martian Inca and Miracle Visitors are from this period, but I think his very best work is in his first three collections of short stories: The Very Slow Time Machine, Sunstroke, and Slow Birds.
pnh
Dec. 30th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
(1) China Mountain Zhang is one of the best books I've ever acquired and published.

(2) If the presence of Patrick O'Brian's Desolation Island is an indication that you've read the first four books in the Aubrey/Maturin series but not book five onward, why, how lucky you are, first because Desolation Island is one of the most exciting action novels ever written, and second because it's the point where the series really takes flight.

(3) I read Joanna Russ's How To Suppress Women's Writing when TNH and I typed it for her, from her handwritten manuscript. (Joanna had hurt her back and temporarily couldn't type.) I love dropping this small fact. It is a trenchant and essential book.
tchernabyelo
Dec. 30th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
I love Dunnett and Zelazny so would recommend those (though inevitably, in the complete Zelazny, there are weak works amongst the gems... but thre are so many, so many gems). I think "Galactic North" shows that Reynolds may actually be a better short story writer than novelist; for me, his longer works tend to drag, and don't have the denouements that his ideas deserve, but his imagination really sparkles at novella and shorter length.

I read Mythago Wood many many years ago, and know many people who love it, but I can't remember a single thing about it.
pakrit
Dec. 30th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
Until now, I seem to be the only one who read the Le Clézio, but I don't recommend it.
melita66
Dec. 30th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
Books that I did not check because I couldn't finish them:

The City at the End of Time: I vaguely did want to know what was going to happen to the characters, but it was taking soooo long.

Princess of Roumania: Eight Deadly Words

On a happier note...

Flora Segunda is great fun and I think the sequel, Flora's Dare, is even better.

A Song for Arbonne is a good GGK, but not one of my favorites of his.

China Mountain Zhang is excellent.

I like Niccolo (Dorothy Dunnett) more than Francis. To me, Francis starts out in a crappy mood and ends up in a good mood (redeemed). Claes starts out in a good mood, ends up in a crappy mood, and finally in a good mood by the end. I'm much more sympathetic to Nicholas. Like some of Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books, I'm often thinking to myself, 'Oh, no, no, no, don't do that...!' during the Niccolo series.
punktortoise
Dec. 30th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
I've read and enjoyed Iain Banks' Transition and Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping (and if you ever chance across a DVD of the movie version of Housekeeping you should spare no efforts to watch it, because it is imho one of the best movies ever made). Alastair Reynolds is generally excellent, although I haven't read Chasm City or Galactic North. I was disappointed with Greg Bear's City at the End of Time. The Gormenghast trilogy is impressive, the first two books especially--Titus Alone is, and feels, unfinished--and I'd recommend Jack McDevitt on general principles, although I haven't read Cauldron. Plus I'd throw in a vote for Rare Unsigned Copy because, you know, how could I not?
bibliofile
Jan. 13th, 2011 12:57 pm (UTC)
I saw Housekeeping and adored it; the book's good too. OTOH, a friend hated it, thinking that the girls would've been better off with more sane (for lack of a better word) parental figures. YMMV.

Also chiming in for China Mountain Zhang.

The Russ is essential reading. Really.

Tim Powers' Last Call is essential reading if you ever plan to visit Las Vegas. It's a decent sample of Powers' work, too, and a standalone book (which may help).

Note that Princess of Roumania is really a portion of a larger work, published in four parts. At least you'll be reading it when the other books are already out....
ninebelow
Dec. 30th, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
Letters from Father Christmas, China Mountain Zhang and Far North are all excellent.
pgmcc
Dec. 30th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Q taught me a lot about the Reformation as well as being a fun read.
peadarog
Dec. 30th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
I recommend "Mythago Wood" and would love to hear your thoughts on "A Princess of Roumenia", since I really enjoyed some of Mr. Parks' other works and am curious about this one.
cassiphone
Dec. 31st, 2010 09:03 am (UTC)
China Mountain Zhang really is as good as everyone says it is! Also I think you'd really enjoy Chicks Dig Time Lords - a fun, thoughtful collection of essays
coth
Dec. 31st, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
There is a lot of good stuff in there, both old and new, and nothing I would particularly single out for dispraise. Of those I have read I particularly rated the McHugh (China Mountain Zhang), Gwyneth Jones (North Wind and White Queen), Hand (Waking the Moon), the Jo Walton trilogy, the Dunnett, and the Tiptree. Mendlesohn's Diana Wynne Jones is very interesting.

Having noted these are all female, and mostly fairly recent, I looked over the list again. Do I detect a recent effort to add strong contemporary female writers to your pile? If so, you have made good choices.

Of those I have not read I would pick the Patrick O'Brian, Ian McDonald and Pratchett fiction, and the Gould non-fiction, based on my previous acquaintance with the authors. Banks, Mieville and Reynolds have a good chance too. Most of the others will fall to lack of time or interest.

Guy Gavriel Kay's Song for Arbonne is one that divides opinion. I hated it worst of all his books; others love it best. I guess you will have to make up your own mind.

helenze
Dec. 31st, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
Death in Venice is a work of such breathtaking beauty and sadness; you must read it.

Edited at 2010-12-31 05:24 pm (UTC)
nwhyte
Jan. 2nd, 2011 07:09 am (UTC)
Mervyn Peake: Gormenghast Trilogy 39
Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher, And Other Stories 38
Philippa Pearce: Tom's Midnight Garden 29
Guy Gavriel Kay: A Song for Arbonne 25
Robert Holdstock: Mythago Wood 22
Maureen F. McHugh: China Mountain Zhang 21
Tim Powers: Last Call 19
Lois Mcmaster Bujold: The Sharing Knife: Passage 18
Terry Pratchett: I Shall Wear Midnight 17
Jo Walton: Ha'penny 15
Lois Mcmaster Bujold: The Sharing Knife: Horizon 15

J. R. R. Tolkien: Letters from Father Christmas 15
Ysabeau S. Wilce: Flora Segunda 14
Iain Banks: Transition 14
Jo Walton: Half a Crown 13
Gillian Cross: The Demon Headmaster 13

China Mieville: Looking for Jake and Other Stories 12
Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto 12
Gwyneth Jones: White Queen 11

Diana Wynne Jones: Stopping for a Spell 11
James Tiptree: Up the Walls of the World 11
Eric Flint: 1632 11
Poul Anderson: There Will be Time 10
Elizabeth Hand: Waking the Moon 10



Arthur Conan Doyle: The Complete Sherlock Holmes 56
D. H. Lawrence: Lady Chatterley's Lover 36
Jostein Gaarder: Sophie's World 28
Sir Walter Scott: Ivanhoe 26
Giovanni Boccaccio: The Decameron 24
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom's Cabin 22

Henry Fielding: The History of Tom Jones 20
D.H. Lawrence: Sons and Lovers 20
Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass 19
Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Idiot 18
Michelle Magorian: Goodnight Mister Tom 17
Patrick O'Brian: Desolation Island 17
Daniel Defoe: Moll Flanders 17
Franz Kafka: The Castle 17
Meg Cabot: The Princess Diaries 16
Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man 16
Charles Frazier: Cold Mountain 16
Charles Lamb: Tales of Shakespeare 15

Thomas Mann: Death in Venice 15
Dorothy Dunnett: Niccolo Rising 13
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The House of the Seven Gables 13
Stendhal: The Red and the Black 12
Dorothy Dunnett: The Spring of the Ram 11
Katherine Paterson: Jacob Have I Loved 11


Thucydides: The History of the Peloponnesian War 19
Joanna Russ: How to Suppress Women's Writing 18
Frederick Douglass: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 11
Mary Wollstonecraft: The Rights of Woman - and - On The Subjection of Women 9
Stephen Jay Gould: Questioning the Millennium. 8
Lynne M. Thomas: Chicks Dig Time Lords 5
Stephen Jay Gould: Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin 5
Paul Kincaid: British Science Fiction & Fantasy: Twenty Years, Two Surveys
Farah Mendlesohn: Diana Wynne Jones 3

Karen Armstrong: The Bible: The Biography 3
Peter C. Bayley: Spenser's The Faerie Queen - A Selection of Critical Essays 2
Ian Hislop: Private Eye Annual 2008 2

David Day: A Guide to Tolkien 2
Katherine Ashenburg: Clean: An Unsanitised History of Washing 2
M. I. Finley: The Portable Greek Historians 2
Ammon Shea: Reading the Oxford English Dictionary 2

Edited at 2011-12-23 08:05 pm (UTC)
nwhyte
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:24 am (UTC)
2 for The Spring of the Ram, 1632, Desolation Island, Housekeeping, The Devils


Edited at 2011-11-11 10:45 am (UTC)
( 41 comments — Leave a comment )

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