?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Library tidy-up (Part 1)

Today's big job was tidying up the library. We've removed a number of duplicates and some books that we're never likely to read or don't really want to see again. More on that later.

We've also moved the books we want to read next onto to-read shelves. However, by the time we'd finished, we had three to-read shelves each. (Note that this isn't how many books there are in the library that we haven't read, this is the just the books we haven't read and want to read NOW.)

Anyway, I thought I'd share the contents of my to-read shelves with you in the hope that someone would say "Oh, definitely read x next" or "I hated y, but you might like it" or even "Knowing your tastes, I don't think you'd get on with z".



Classic SF (and more modern, but fairly highbrow SF) that I feel I should get around to:
'I, Robot', Isaac Asimov (The only Asimov I've read is the Foundation series (or the first four at least) which I like a lot. And it turns out that these end up being the same series. Sort of.
'Star Maker', Olaf Stapledon (I very much liked 'First and Last Men'.)
'Slaughterhouse 5', Kurt Vonnegut
'Tau Zero', Poul Anderson (I've not found a Poul Anderson book I didn't like yet. And I seem to remember lil_shepherd recommending this.)
'Rama II', Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee (I liked 'Rendezvous with Rama', but am slightly concerned that the sequel is a collaboration.)
'The Deep Range', Arthur C. Clarke (Like Anderson, I've not yet found an ACC that I didn't like.)
'Helliconia Spring', Brian Aldiss (Don't really know what to expect with this series.)
'A Canticle for Leibowitz', Walter M. Miller Jr (Looks like an interesting idea.)
'Gateway', Frederik Pohl (Supposedly Travelleresque, to some degree.)
'Space Viking', H. Beam Piper (Very Travelleresque. The culture of the Sword Worlds in Traveller comes from this novel.)
'Ender's Game', Orson Scott Card (This series seems to divide people. I have a vague idea there will be a film sometime soon, so I'd like to read the book before that comes out.)
'The Hopkins Manuscript', R.C. Sherriff (I've seen this referred to as a classic, but most people don't seem to have heard of it.)
'Children of Dune', Frank Herbert (I'm aware that the quality is supposed to drop off at about this point, but I might be prepared to persevere.)
'The Palace of Love', Jack Vance (The third Demon Princes book.)
'The Forever War', Joe Haldeman (Not read much military SF, and this is supposed to be some of the best, at least according to the blurb.)
'Consider Phlebas', Iain M. Banks (No, I've never read any Banks.)
'The Stainless Steel Rat', Harry Harrison (Again, one of the series regarded as having a major influence on Traveller.)
'Bug Jack Barron', Norman Spinrad (In a US election year, it seems appropriate to read something vaguely satirical about American politics.)
'The Ragged Astronauts', Bob Shaw (I've been meaning to read this for decades, ever since reading Dave Langford's review in White Dwarf.)
'Tactics of Mistake', Gordon R. Dickson (The first Dorsai novel.)
'The Naked God', Peter F. Hamilton (The third doorstop in the Night's Dawn trilogy. Great, but just so, so long.)
'Starship Troopers', Robert Heinlein (Pellegrina recently observed that she'd read some Heinlein because she felt she had to as he was one of the "big beasts" of SF - and then ended up not liking 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'. I'm in a similar position, but I've decided to go for this first.)
'The Space Merchants', Frederik Pohl & Cyril Kornbluth (SF advertising satire, which must be a small sub-genre.)
'Babel-17', Samuel R. Delaney (Classic, but I admit I know little about it.)
'Rogue Moon', Algis Budrys (Ditto.)
'Sea-Kings of Mars', Leigh Brackett (And again, ditto.)
'Hyperion', Dan Simmons (More recent big book space opera. andrewducker says the quality declines as the series continues.)
'Eon', Greg Bear ("Made me want to scrape my brain out of my skull using a plastic spoon", said chainmailmaiden...)
'The Ringworld Engineers', Larry Niven (I didn't like 'Ringworld' as much as I felt I was supposed to, but I don't know why, so I think I will persevere.)
'Revelation Space', Alastair Reynolds (The other major British space opera writer that I haven't read any of.)
'The Book of Skulls', Robert Silverberg (bunn and (I think) chainmailmaiden like Silverberg. This one looked interesting.)
'Anathem', Neal Stephenson (Looks a bit daunting, but I really like the idea. Never read any Stephenson.)
'Yellow Blue Tibia', Adam Roberts (Looks like fun while being strangely highbrow at the same time.)


Not-quite-so-classic SF (mostly space opera, some quite pulpy, usually Travelleresque):
'The Soul Eater', Mike Resnick (I first came across Mike Resnick in the Jack vance tribute anthology 'Songs of the Dying Earth'. Since then, I've read his novels 'Santiago' and 'Ivory', both of which are utterly brilliant.)
'Plague Ship', Andre Norton (Second in the very, very Travelleresque Solar Queen series. I loved the first, 'Sargasso of Space'.)
'Toyman', E.C. Tubb (The third 'Dumarest of Earth' book. Very pulpy, but also very Travelleresque and a lot of fun.)
'Chanur's Venture', C.J. Cherryh (Also very Travelleresque. It's the second in the series, but I was disappointed in the first. Nevertheless, I will persevere because of the Traveller feel and because pellegrina (and I think na_lon) is such a fan.)
'Rule 34', Charles Stross (Sequel to 'Halting State', which was ace.)
'Tuf Voyaging', George R.R. Martin (bunn's been on at me for ages to read this and says that not only is it very Travelleresque, it also has lots of cats.)
'Vanderdeken's Children', Christopher Bulis (A few years back, I really got into the 8th Doctor books, and this is as far as I got. I don't remember why I stopped to be honest.)
'Project Star Sail', Various (A collection of short stories by A-list SF authors with the common theme of solar sails.)
'Startide Rising', David Brin (The second Uplift book. To be honest, I found the first book, 'Sundiver' pretty dull, but the setting is interesting, and online reviews have suggested that it gets better with this and the third book.)
'The Honor of the Queen', David Weber (The second Honor Harrington book. The first was ok. I actually bought this at Forbidden Planet and it's a signed copy.)
'The Complete Hammer's Slammers, Volume 1', David Drake (Has to be very Travelleresque in as much as there is an actual Traveller Hammer's Slammers supplement. I'm aware that normal people read the books before they buy the RPG supplement and not the other way around. eledonecirrhosa speaks well of this series.)


Assorted Fantasy:
'Dragons of Spring Dawning', Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (The third Dragonlance book. The first was terrible, the second reasonable, so maybe the third will actually be quite good. I'm not terribly optimistic though.)
'Best Served Cold', Joe Abercrombie (His fourth novel, after the Book of the First Law trilogy. I love his stuff.)
'Silverthorn', Raymond E. Feist (Sequel to Magician, which I thought was a clever fantasy.)
'Tigana', Guy Gavriel Kay (Not read any GGK, except for those bits of The Silmarillion which he helped with.)
'The Queen of the Swords', Michael Moorcock (The second Corum book. My Moorcock reading list tells me this is the next book I should read.)
'Blood of Elves', Andrzej Sapkowski (The second Witcher book (and so far the last to be translated into English.)
'Nifft the Lean', Michael Shea (Supposedly very Vancean. I liked his alternative sequel to 'The Eyes of the Overworld', 'The Quest for Simbilis', which came out before Vance's own sequel. This is supposedly similar in style, but isn't in the same setting.)
'The Anvil of Ice', Michael Scott Rohan (Picked this up in a charity shop, because I liked the cover art, they had the full trilogy and the setting looked interesting.)
'The Shadow of the Torturer' (Book of the New Sun), Gene Wolfe (Lots of people seem to think these are great, and they often come very highly in 'Best Fantasy Books of All Time Ever' lists online.)
'Prince Ombra', Roderick Macleish (I know very little about this and bought it solely because jane_somebody (I think) recommended it very strongly once.)
'The Dark Bright Water', Patricia Wrightson (Australian fantasy. Second in the series. I liked the first, 'The Ice is Coming'. bunn loves them.)


Historical and semi-historical fiction:
'Sword at Sunset', Rosemary Sutcliff (I've never found quite the 'historical Arthur' novel I'm looking for. bunn reckons this might be it, but then she is something of a Sutcliff fangirl.)
'Shield of Thunder', David Gemmell (Second in his Troy trilogy. The first was very good.)
'Roads not Taken - Tales of Alternative History', Various (I should read more alternative history. This looks like a good collection.)
'The Hammer and the Cross', Harry Harrison & Tom Shippey (Yes, that Harry Harrison, and yes, that Tom Shippey, although he won't admit it, and he's writing under a pseudonym. The story is set in an alternative 9th century England.)


Whodunnits:
'Murder on the Orient Express', Agatha Christie (If I'm going to run an RPG campaign set on the Orient Express, I feel I should read this, although I've never actually read any Christie. Watched plenty of Miss Marple and Poirot over the years though, especially when bunn was in her 'genteel whodunnits' phase.)
'The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth', Malcolm Pryce (The third Louie Knight mystery, set in a weird alternative Aberystwyth where the town is run by a Druid mafia, and there are scarred veterans of Wales's colonial war in Patagonia.)


Sport:
'How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup', J.L. Carr (This looks weird and fun, and I cannot remember why I put it on my Amazon wish list.)
'Moneyball', Michael Lewis (An investigation into how the Oakland Athletics were able to compete with much richer baseball teams. That admittedly sounds dull, but he's such a talented writer that he seems capable of making anything interesting. I stayed up into the early hours of the morning devouring his 'The Big Short', and that was about complex financial instruments...)


Criticism:
'Wizardry and Wild Romance', Michael Moorcock (I'm interested to see what he has to say about other authors, although I feel I've been spoilered since everyone knows he thinks people who read Tolkien or Heinlein are as bad as those who read 'Mein Kampf'.)


History:
'Queen Emma and the Vikings', Harriet O'Brien (I know very little about this period of history. Emma was the Norman princess who married Ethelred the Unready, then Cnut, and was mother to two kings of England, stepmother to two more and great aunt to William the Conqueror.)
'The Classical World - An Epic History of Greece and Rome', Robin Lane-Fox (A period of history I know rather more about because I did an A-level covering it. Still, it's nice to go into a bit more detail sometimes.)


Science and Engineering:
'I Know You Got Soul', Jeremy Clarkson (JC rambling on about his favourite machines.)
'A Teaspoon and an Open Mind - The Science of Doctor Who', Michael White (This looks like fun, but I have no idea whether or not it is any good.)
'Bang! The Complete History of the Universe', Dr Brian May, Sir Patrick Moore, Dr Chris Lintott (I'd love to see Brian join Chris to present 'The Sky at Night' when Sir Patrick finally pops his clogs. My fear is that it will instead be that f***ing Manc bastard with the bad hair and the creepy lips.)


Economics:
'Chasing Rainbows - Economic Myths, Environmental Facts', Tim Worstall (Most of the books you find on environmental issues in bookshops look like utter drivel, no matter which side of the argument they fall on. Generally, the better ones are the ones which use economics to reach their conclusions not selective pseudoscience.)
'How the West was Lost', Dambisa Moyo (Not only does the author follow me on Twitter, she was also named as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential people. Her book 'Dead Aid' was a very convincing argument against the international aid industry.)
'The Cartoon Introduction to Economics, Volume 2 - Macroeconomics', Klein & Bauman (The first book (on microeconomics) was good. Hopefully this one will be too. There are lots of economics for beginners books out there, but I've not come across one yet that I would recommend unreservedly.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
pellegrina
May. 19th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
Yay! A book thread.

'A Canticle for Leibowitz' and 'The Forever War' are brilliant. I enjoyed 'Gateway' but can't remember much about it. I disliked 'Ender's Game' intensely. It was a good read, but very manipulative in a way that left me feeling cheated. I disliked 'Starship Troopers' even more. They are thematically similar enough to be worth reading as a pair, and at a guess you will probably like them more than I did - I'd probably appreciate them more now than I did 10 years ago too, but for now I've written Card and Heinlein off.

I've never managed not to bounce off Iain M. Banks. I would love to be recommended a good starting point. I've also always meant to try the Stainless Steel Rat and Robert Silverberg, but bounced off them, too.

malaheed's review of 'The Naked God' and trilogy included the phrase "two and a half fucking kilos of paperback and he [potential spoiler deleted]".

'Eon' was okay, but Greg Bear made me conclude that hard SF is just fundamentally dull. I enjoyed 'Revelation Space' more than 'Chasm City' and can't remember if I read the third book (or its title). I enjoyed the Uplift Wars the first time round, but found them rather lightweight on rereading.

'The Shadow of the Torturer' was brilliant but have a good dictionary to hand. I persevered but never managed to finish book 4. (A dubious honour Wolfe shares with Julian May.)
I found 'Hyperion' unbearably pretentious and annoying.

The Chanur books are the reason why when my braces come off, I will be fighting the dentist to get at least one crown made of gold, not the white fake tooth stuff.
chainmailmaiden
May. 19th, 2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
The Book of Skulls is one of my favourite Silverbergs EVER. It is an absolutely brilliant book, I'd highly recommend it. I also love Tigana, but then I'm fond of GGKs work in general. Tigana is one of my favourites of his though. That and A Song for Arbonne.
philmophlegm
May. 20th, 2012 09:25 am (UTC)
A Song for Arbonne is on one of bunn's three TBR shelves.
chainmailmaiden
May. 20th, 2012 12:27 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed The Naked God too, despite it being the only Peter F Hamilton book I've ever read. MIL got it as a freebie when she worked in a bookshop & gave it to me. I'm sure I have read Consider Phleabus as the Greg Bear boyfriend was an Iain M Banks fan, but I didn't really find any of his sci fi stuff interesting. I prefer the stuff he writes as Iain Banks, the Wasp Factory is great, even if the 'twist' is bloody obvious right from the start.
foradan
May. 20th, 2012 04:04 am (UTC)
Rama sequels: Nothing like the original. Too much Lee, not enough Clarke

Gateway: Great

Ender's Game: I like it, but prefer the sequels.

Children of Dune: Not up to the standard of the original. I have read this, but no further.

Consider Phlebas: Visit amazing SF constructs, blow them up. I am told other Banks are much better.

The Stainless Steel Rat: I love this, and think you might too. A bit like a high-IQ, SF version of James Bond. Very quick read.

Eon: Bear's first big hit, and his best in my opinion.

Chanur: If you found the first dissappointing, you will probably find the second one dissappointing too. I also like CJ Cherryh books a lot, but from what I remember of your remarks about the first, you may not.

Uplift series: Very good, Sundiver is definitely the weakest.

The Anvil of Ice: Another one I like a lot. This series uses a lot of the same source mythological material as Tolkien, but does something very different with it.
andrewducker
May. 20th, 2012 11:57 am (UTC)
Phlebas is the first Culture novel, but it's not where I'd start, because it's not as good as the later novels, and the books don't generally carry on from book to book. I'd start with Player of Games instead.
atreic
May. 20th, 2012 05:52 pm (UTC)
I started with The Player of Games and entirely second this comment :-)
kargicq
May. 20th, 2012 06:46 am (UTC)
Hmm... all IMNSHO...

'I, Robot' -- A good read, one of Asimov's best

'Slaughterhouse 5' -- read it many years ago, not much has stuck.

'Helliconia Spring' -- if I remember it right, the introduction/preface was fantastic. Then the actual book was a complete let-down.


'A Canticle for Leibowitz' -- very nicely done, makes its points well and doesn't bang on about them (a failing of a lot of High Concept SF as far as I can tell!)

'Gateway' -- read it many years ago, not much has stuck.

'Ender's Game' -- fantastic, as was the next in the series. Downhill from there.

'Children of Dune' -- I slogged through the whole series but wouldn't recommend any else should do the same.

'The Forever War' -- a great book. Don't bother with the sequels.

'The Stainless Steel Rat' -- can't believe you haven't read this! Very very silly, huge fun.

'The Ragged Astronauts' -- nice idea, done very well.

'The Space Merchants' -- good but a bit dated.

'Babel-17' -- fantastic.

'Eon' -- read it many years ago, not much has stuck.

What a great list, though! I really should get back to reading more SF.
louisedennis
May. 20th, 2012 07:32 am (UTC)
Hmmm... I do not recall much about Vanderdeken's Children. I'm don't think Bulis' work is as bad as many Who fans* do but my instinct tells me that, unless you really do want to read all the BBC Eighth Doctor adventures, then you wouldn't be missing anything to skip this one.

* I tend to think of him as a competent plodder with occasional good bits, but also some very dull and derivative bits.

I liked Children of Dune and continued reading the series up as far as the end of God Emperor.

Consider Phlebas is not, I would say, even close to being Banks' best book though I suspect it may be more interesting if you haven't read the others first since it relies, to a certain extent, on the reader not having expectations about the rest of his universe and, more importantly, being able to decide for themselves how reliable the narrator is. That said, Banks has written much tighter and much more thoughtful stuff than this. I was very disappointed with it.
bunn
May. 20th, 2012 08:22 am (UTC)
I don't know why I'm bothering to comment as my demands you read Tuf Voyaging and Plague Ship have been RELENTLESSLY IGNORED so far. But I still think you should read those

(in fact you should have read Plague Ship a couple years back before the traveller campaign which basically duplicated the plot, it only takes a couple of hours! )

If you try to run ' Orient Express' without having read any Christie then really you have no soul. Also if you read some Christie then you might get more of the jokes in the Doctor Who episode. :-p

Queen Emma and the Vikings is quite a good read as well as being generally interesting (and about an Important Woman, in a period where most histories concentrate exclusively on men).
bunn
May. 20th, 2012 08:28 am (UTC)
The realisation has just come to me that instead of simply suggesting repeatedly you read 'Plague Ship' I should have performed Hiverish manipulations to ensure you did.

If you find you are on a train that is mysteriously delayed, your Ipad has an annoying flat battery and your only form of entertainment is 'Murder on the Orient Express' - don't say I didn't warn you. :-p
phina_v
May. 20th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
I have an embarrassingly poor memory for things I've read, even if I enjoyed them at the time but have enjoyed a few of these so for what it's worth...

Silverthorn - I'd say worth a go if you like Magician. I loved Magician as a teenager and have been very tempted to reread it recently. Don't think I enjoyed the sequels quite as much but don't recall a horrible drop-off.

I also enjoyed Helliconia Spring at around the same time. I still have odd memories of bits of atmosphere and concept. I wonder if it's quite as good as I remember though. I suspect it may not come out so well if you've read quite a lot of fantasy.

Iain M Banks - have to agree with what others have said. I started with Consider Phlebas and think I had to have two goes. It did have some interesting concepts and louise's point about the reliability of the narrator is a good one. So far have also read The Player of Games and Use of Weapons. Both better, The Player of Games gripped me most. It took me *ages* to work out the timeline in Use of Weapons. I'm sure you'd get there quicker and probably enjoy it more as a result.

Slaughterhouse Five - this is not going to be helpful but you've reminded me that this is on my to-read list. Thanks.

Ages since I read Nifft the Lean. I seem to remember it as a fairly enjoyable write up of someone roleplaying a thief but bear in mind what I said about my memory of books!

I read The Shadow of the Torturer fairly recently but don't remember it well. Not sure if that tells you anything.

Sounds like a good list and I might pinch one or two ideas from it. Not that I am short of them. I also have three to-read shelves and far too little reading time at the moment.
wellinghall
May. 20th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
I, Robot
I read this often as a child / teenager, and greatly enioyed it.

And it turns out that these end up being the same series. Sort of.
Yes, but only in his later, flatulent, years.

Rama II
I think that I have read this, but that it proved rather forgettable.

Tau Zero
Read as an adult, enjoyed, wondered if I was missing a point.

The Deep Range
Read as an adult, enjoyed.

A Canticle for Leibowitz
Read as an adult, enjoyed.

Children of Dune
Read as an older teen, was getting a bit fed up with the series by this point.

The Stainless Steel Rat
Good froth.

The Ragged Astronauts
Could you remind me of the review?

Starship Troopers
Good militaristic Heinlein.

Hyperion
I have long been unsure as to whether I have read this or not.

The Ringworld Engineers
Niven's youthful inventivesness and imagination are wearing off by now.

Edited at 2012-05-20 05:43 pm (UTC)
wellinghall
May. 20th, 2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
The Honor of the Queen
Fun story, not very well written, early enough in the series not to have gotten completely preposterous.

The Shadow of the Torturer
Too gruesome for me.

Roads not Taken - Tales of Alternative History
A mixture. Some of the stories are very good.

The Hammer and the Cross
I haven't read the novel, but I think I've read a short in the same universe by the same authors.

Murder on the Orient Express
I have probably read it, and found it (in common with other Agatha Christies) to be less good than a decent TV adaptation.

Wizardry and Wild Romance
I've got it, but I'm not sure whether I've read all of it.
atreic
May. 20th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
I love Enders Game, but think it is a book that hugely benefits from being read between the ages of 15 and 20. I quite like the sequels, but lots of people hate them.
wellinghall
May. 20th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
A good post, BTW. I might do one of my own at some point. Or (more possibly) might not.
wellinghall
May. 21st, 2012 08:28 pm (UTC)
Roads not Taken - Tales of Alternative History

I particularly enjoyed, "How I Lost the Second World War and Helped Turn Back the German Invasion".
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )