Monday, December 3, 2012
A mere suggestion of possible reads for those of you who want something different, stimulating, and would probably want to pass on to others to read.
Two ideas slammed into each other this morning while I was doodling around on the internet; a recent post from the blog of Propnomicon decrying the low level of immersive detective games and the same morning, turned up an old post on io9 about the Ten Science Fiction Novels You Pretend to Have Read. Actually I had already read 7 of the 10 and might read two additional on the list.
This has lead me to make a list of books as possible Christmas presents for those who are a bit more advance than the average and while needing a bit of a challenge, don’t want to be beat over the head with an overblown pompous, “must read” book that is never finished and is laced with punishment in every page. You know, like a Pynchon book, Finnegan’s Wake, Dhalgren, and other books that cry out for courageous souls to cry out, “Hey look, the king ain’t got no clothes”.
Instead I created an eclectic list, off the top off my head, of books that: (1) I have read, (2) enjoyed, (3) found stimulating, (4) would want to read again and, (5) recommend to others. I tried to keep the list short and books that should be available commonly. These aren’t trophy books with names dropped to impress your friends, they are good reads. Not all of them are science fiction or fantasy and one of them isn’t even fiction, but all are readable, challenging, and worth the time. They are a group of off-the-beaten-path books and authors, that I have enjoyed over the years and think you will also.
Here are eleven authors with books that I have recommended in no particular order, with myself manfully trying to recommend only one book or per author, but failing miserably in a few cases.
Collected Fictions, (1999) Jorge Luis Borges
Foucault’s Pendulum, (1989 in English) Umberto Eco
Winter’s Tale, (1983) Mark Helprin
Dictionary of the Khazars, (1988 in English) Milorad Pavic
Little, Big, (1981) John Crowley
The King in Yellow, (1895) Robert W. Chambers
A Canticle for Leibowitz, (1950) Walter J. Miller, Jr.
Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Colciliator, The Sword of the Lictor, Citadel of the Autarch – (written between 1980-1983) all part of the four part Book of the New Sun Series by Gene Wolfe. I might also suggest the ghost story Peace (1976)
Breaking the Maya Code, (1992) Michael D. Coe
My Name is Red (1998) Orhan Pamuk, also recommend The Black Book (1994) and sequel The New Life (1997)
The King’s Indian: Stories and Tales (1974), John Gardner, he also wrote the better known books, Grendel and The Sunlight Dialogs, all well worth the read
A Wild Sheep Chase (1990), Haruki Murakami, also recommended are: Dance, Dance, Dance, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1995), Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World (1985), and Kafka On The Shore (2002)
So endeth my list as I am going to quit while I am still ahead. These quirky, unusual, and insightful tales I recommend as good reads and I make no apologies for any time wasted, tired eyes or lost nights’ sleep. As for myself, I am going to get a copy of Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson to read and maybe I’ll add it to my recommended list for next year.