My 2012 reading challenge

22 Dec

This year on Goodreads I took part in the annual reading challenge where you choose the number of books you want to try completing that year, then keep track of your progress throughout. I planned to finish 30 books, and reached my target just a few days ago. While it was fun to do and motivated me to read more often, it did have a few flaws, namely that the length of the books didn’t matter, just how many of them there were. As it was, I ended up occasionally reading shorter novels that I was only kinda interested in, rather than longer epics that I really wanted to dive into.

This year, I’m going to try something a bit different. Rather than just read 30 or so random books I’m going to make a list of a lot of the authors and books which I keep meaning to check out, but keep putting off. I won’t necessarily read an entire series by each author (unless I get really hooked), but I will read at least the first book in one to get a better feel for their work.  I’m still going to be reading other books throughout the year as they pop up, but for these ones I’m going to make an extra-special effort.

I’m going to be taking some time to put together a full list, but here’s a few that have been lurking around my mind for a while.  If anyone has any recommendations for authors I’ve missed, or perhaps can recommend a different book than one I’ve listed then I’m open to suggestions.

The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher)

Urban wizardry and crime fighting. That says about all that needs to be said I guess. I’ve heard so many good things about the Dresden Files from so many people.  I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten around to reading it sooner.

Otherland (Tad Williams)

Everyone and their mother seems to have read Tad Williams. I get the impression that he’s one of the greats when it comes to fantasy. He’s also one of George R R Martin’s main influences, so that’s a pretty big indicator too.  I’ll be reading the Otherland series, assuming it’s sold in ebook format anywhere (currently seems not to be).

Liveship Traders (Robin Hobb)

As with Tad Williams, Robin Hobb is one of those fantasy authors that I’ve just never gotten around to checking out, despite having heard her name praised from a number of friends and acquaintances both online and off.  On the recommendation of a friend I’ll be starting with the first book in the Liveship Traders series.

Skulduggery Pleasant (Derek Landy)

I hadn’t heard of this one before, but it comes highly recommended from a friend of mine (Drew for those of you who know him).  He’s been mentioning it for so long that I really want to pick it up just to see what the fuss is about.

Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson)

I have actually read one of Neal Stephenson’s books before, Reamde.  While I liked it somewhat everyone has been telling me that it’s nothing at all like his typical work, so I still feel like I don’t really have a grasp of what his work is like.

Dune Messiah (Frank Herbert)

The Dune series seems to be pretty popular, but most people only seem to talk about the first one, simply titled “Dune”.  I’d like to see what the rest of the series is like.

Speaker for the Dead (Orson Scott Card)

As with Frank Herbert’s Dune series, people only ever talk about the first book in this series, Ender’s Game.  I was iffy about reading that one for so long due to all the controversy surrounding him (even mentioning this kicked off a short-lived flame war on Goodreads), but I enjoyed it so much that I felt I should check out the rest of the series.  I’ve been told that every other book in the series is completely different in style compared to the first one, so I’m not quite sure what to expect from them.

The First Law/Best Served Cold (Joe Abercrombie)

I’ve had a copy of Best Served Cold sitting around for a while now and still haven’t gotten around to giving it a read.  Then again The First Law trilogy does place before it in the series, so I might read the first book in that trilogy first.  Any advice on this one would definitely be appreciated.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K Dick)

I’m a huge fan of Blade Runner, yet I’ve never, ever read one of Philip K Dick’s stories.  This choice seems like a bit of a no-brainer for me.


A couple more books/authors popped into my mind recently, so I’ll be adding them to the list.

His Dark Materials (Phillip Pullman)
If there’s ever been a series that people tend to be amazed that I haven’t read, it’s this one.  I can’t claim to know much about it though other than it features polar bears and aethism (according to Shortpacked! that is)

1984 (George Orwell)
I honestly can’t think of a book that I see more often referenced than this one.  It usually gets a mention in any news story that deals with loss of personal privacy or the rise of a “Big Brother” society.  I get what the novel’s about but as with a lot of books like this that’s nowhere near the same thing as actually reading it.

Last edit:

One more author came to mind earlier today, and since it brings the total to a nice even 12 I’m adding him to the list.

Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert Heinlein)

Like some of the others here, Robert Heinlein is considered one of the great Science Fiction Writers around, and I feel a tiny bit of shame by never reading a single one of his stories.  The closest I’ve ever come is watching the film version of Starship Troopers, and while they may be a great film, it’s apparently tells a very different story to the one told in the original book.  According to the sources I’ve checked out (good old Wikipedia and Goodreads) Stranger in a Strange Land is the cream of the crop so that’s the one I’ll be reading.


Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Reading


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8 responses to “My 2012 reading challenge

  1. John Painter

    December 23, 2011 at 12:04 am

    For Robin Hobb and Tad Williams, I’d recommend the Liveship Traders and Otherland respectively. Otherland is a freakin’ excellent cyberpunk-y but also historical and fantastic look into what happens when a virtual world gets too realistic, and the Liveship Traders has some excellent characters (and some real AW SHIT SON, THIS JUST GOT REAL moments) spread across a weird and deep area of the same world as Farseer.

    • John Painter

      December 23, 2011 at 12:05 am

      Also, the next few books from the Ender’s Game series are pretty good, but not quite as good, and the Dune series gets SERIOUSLY strange, but stays excellent. Weird as hell, but good.

  2. hyperbeen

    December 23, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Historical Cyberpunk? You’ve peaked my interest sir. And there I was thinking that all Tad Williams did was Fantasy.

    Considering Liveship Traders and Farseer are set in the same world, do they still manage to avoid spoilers for the series which were written before?

    • John Painter

      December 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      As far as spoilers go, I believe there is minimal to no spoilers for Farseer in Liveship, given that Farseer is set in an area not unlike medieval England in terms of climate and politics (ish), while Liveship is set in the tropics. I believe mention is given to the previous books, but only in passing.

  3. hyperbeen

    December 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Added a couple more books to the list that I’m going to be reading. Skulduggery Pleasant is on offer right now on the Amazon Kindle store, so I think I’ll be reading that one quite soon too.

  4. hyperbeen

    December 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    And now I’ve rounded off the list with Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. 12 seems like a good number to me, since some of those books would take me a whole month to get through, while others I’d be able to get through the whole series in the same time. I’ll start after the new year, but I’ve already taken a look at The Minority Report by Philip K Dick and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and I’m liking what I’m reading so far.

    It’s been suggested that I write up reviews of these books as well, and considering I’m still trying to get my writing abilities up to scratch I might as well kill two birds with one tome (probably one of Neal Stephenson’s). I’ll be sticking with just the ones on the list for that though, otherwise I’ll end up with such a backlog of reviews to write that I’ll never get around to finishing them.


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