Thought experiments


I’ve been posting reading list updates every month or so this year, and now that we’re more than five months into 2014, I was curious to see how I’m progressing. I am 24 books into my goal of reading 50 new fictional books this year, and I think it’s safe to say that 2014 is the year of the fantasy novel for me. Or maybe, it would be better to say sci fi/ fantasy, for though I usually favor fantasy, Dune was one of my favorite new books this year.

I’ve been debating whether to take on Lord of the Rings now or save it for Turkey. On the one hand, I’ve just finished The Hobbit and am anxious for more of the same. On the other, I like to save enormous tomes for when I travel; the alternative is to pack five books instead of one or two larger novels, and it saves me the trouble of having to look after more books.

Also, at the pace I’ve set for myself I don’t really have time to devote to the question of what to read next. I need to begin reading a new book immediately after finishing the book prior. I suppose I could make it easy on myself and knock out a handful of short books to give myself some time to relax but I think I’m enjoying the curious process of almost stumbling into a new book before I even seem to make the choice. Fellow readers recommended Armistead Maupin’s series because I was looking for books with more gay characters so I read those, and before that my brother and his girlfriend bought me a bunch of fantasy novels so I read those. And then there was a fantastic documentary called Jodorowsky’s Dune and I just had to read Dune. It feels completely random, and yet I am absolutely certain that whatever I happen to be reading is exactly what I want and should be reading at any given moment–even the books I didn’t particularly enjoy, like Island and The Catcher in the Rye.

I do feel as though I am moving toward my intended target, though I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what that target is. I know only that I need, constantly, to advance into new terrain, meet new characters, consider new ideas. And I’m not sure how much of this is meant to feed the reader part of me, and how much to feed the writer, or whether there’s any point in trying to distinguish between the two. All the while, of course, I’m very conscious of avoiding the perception of reading as any kind of chore. I don’t mind viewing it as a game or tool of self-improvement, but the day that reading becomes an obligation rather than a pleasure is the day I lose sight of myself completely.

So these are the (new) books I’ve read thus far, and I’m happy to take recommendations for future reading:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Island by Aldous Huxley

Dune by Frank Herbert

Sure of You by Armistead Maupin

Babycakes by Armistead Maupin

Further Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Winterdance by Gary Paulsen

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings

Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings

Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings

Enchanter’s End Game by David Eddings

If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie



  1. eu sempre digo que ler nos leva para lugares incríveis, goste muito!!!

  2. I hear you. I’m staying ahead of my goal of 52 in one year, but sometimes I lose sight of the overall point of enjoying new books! I feel like your taste is rather like mine, so if you’re in the mood for fantasy, try Jim Butcher’s Furies of Calderon series. For fiction, read more Murakami! Maybe Margaret Atwood? Oryx & Crake and Alias Grace are next on my to-read list for her, so I haven’t read them but they come highly regarded. Maybe Kazuo Ishiguro too – Never Let Me Go is good, but Remains of the Day is amazing, and I hear An Artist of the Floating World is really good too 🙂 Also, get crackin’ on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell!

    • Ooooo…thanks! I’ll have to add those to the list! I have to confess I didn’t particularly enjoy reading Murakami, but I really respected how complicated his plot was and appreciated the big picture of what he was trying to accomplish, even if I didn’t much enjoy reading it.

      • He can be a little surreal, but I find the way he worms into my brain and my heart very sneaky and very deftly done. Oh, on the subject of magical realism, you could give David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten a try. I found it quite beautifully written.

  3. Hmm,I too would suggest Kazuo Ishiguro’s works.
    There are also Booker Prize Winners which are always so refreshing and wonderful! For instance,you can give The God of Small Things, Oscar and Lucinda, or The Sense of an Ending a go.
    You can as well try to read some great classics like The Picture of Dorian Gray, Lord of the Flies, or The Great Gatsby.
    And here are some books which are on my wish-list and which I really want to read: Handmaid’s Tale, Catch 22, Cloudstreet, Slaughterhouse Five, and Madame Bovary! 🙂

  4. Mignon Khargie says:

    Ashley, I have Jonathan Strange if you’d like to borrow it. It’s s seriously hefty book, close to 800 pages. Haven’t read yet.

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