One of my dearly held goals in life is to read as much good literature as I can possibly cram into my years. The other big one is to travel as much of the world as the wallet and boss will allow. The first needs the finite resource of time and the second needs the oxygen of cash (“It’s a fact almost every traveler faces: The world is bigger than our wallets are deep”)
A naive approach would be to leave those type of noble goals word smith’ed as they have been above and fervently hope for the best. This is the robustness of most New Year goals we all undertake no? And their success (or more to the point, lack thereof), belatedly mourned in the waning weeks of December can be traced to this profound error of optimism lethally mixed with vagueness.
A smart idea that the bibliophiles online mecca ‘Goodreads.com’ came up with was the ‘Reading Challenge’ where you pledge at the start of a year to finish a certain number of books and then try to make sure you do. Last year I pledged to read 26 books and did. At the start of this year I optimistically jacked up that number to 30 and at the beginning of September I had managed to finish only 13 books. A reading rate of around 3 books every 2 months. So in September I really really floored it. Today I counted up and realized I have managed to start and finish with 11 books in September. So it looks like those homilies on perseverance and persistence were not bong smoke. It was a mixed bag too. Some books were wonderful, some had limited pleasures to be extracted from drilling in and 3 were gushers in the pleasure they managed to evoke thumbing those their pages. Here is a 1 line review of each of the 11, preceded by this beautiful quote from Sagan on books:
‘Night‘ – The suffering on one man in the Nazi camps and the story of how he survived. Think ‘The Pianist’ in book form. 3 stars.
‘Child 44‘ – Thriller about a killer on the loose in Communist Russia. The description of life in that horrible system chilled me more. 3 stars.
‘The Old Man And The Sea‘ – Numbing tale of a senile man’s ramblings from too much sun that had an important lesson: Hemmingway is boring. 1 star.
‘Escape from Camp 14‘ – True story of how one man-child escaped the horrible North Korean labor camp. 3 stars.
‘Forever War‘ – Fantastic Sci-fi about one man’s tale as a soldier in a pointless war spanning centuries. 4 stars.
‘The Little Prince‘ – famous French tale of the little prince who travels to Earth. 2 stars.
‘The Gods Themselves‘ – Asimov. How can one say no? Not as powerful as the foundation series but some bits were absorbing. 2 stars.
‘A Clockwork Orange‘ – Nadsat is daunting but ..this is important…you pick it up fast and then, O my brothers, it’s mayhem. 2 stars.
‘The Lazy Project Manager’ – breaks down project management into the minimum needs to launch. 2 stars.
‘The Sirens of Titan‘ – My first Kurt Vonnegut book. And the closest I think I have come to seeing a book rivaling the famed Hitchhikers Guide in satire. 4 stars.
‘The Curse of Chalion‘ – Epic fantasy set in a medieval Spain setting. With magic and saints. Deserved all the rave reviews it got. 4 stars.
So if you are looking to add 3 books to your reading list that both enjoyable and really worth finishing before 2013 year end, I’d recommend you go with:
1. Forever War
2. The Sirens of Titan
3. The Curse of Chalion
Can I also please add 3 documentaries to this mix that will totally rope you in from start to finish? – For those who say ‘Si’:
1. Collapse – A very good ‘intellectual horror movie’ that examines the dark side of our oil dependency.
2. Indie Game : The Movie – How 3 developers gave it their all and made the awesome indie games they did.
3. TPB AFK – A documentary film based on the lives of the three founders of The Pirate Bay Bit Torrent tracker.
These 6 real gems should keep you busy in Quarter 4.