What to Read This Weekend

It’s Friday. Or Wednesday. Or Purple Spotted Whelks Day. Whenever your ‘weekend’ starts it’s always a lovely feeling to have a couple of days to escape from your normal labours. Now that you’ve got the time, what are you going to do with it? Well, if your inclination is like mine, you want to read something. Now any book of interest will do, but what if you want something you can complete in just a day or two (that’s at mere mortal reading speeds not speed reading eidetic memory speeds)? Well, here are a few recommendations that might fit the bill.

Cover of The Tar-Aiym Krang by Alan Dean Foster

The Tar-Aiym Krang (1972) by Alan Dean Foster. The Tar-Aiym Krang is the first book published in Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth universe. It was also Foster’s first published novel. The story follows Flinx, a street performer and sometimes thief, and his pet mindrag Pip. Flinx ‘finds’ a starmap that takes the pair on a quest to an ancient alien artefact.

It’s a light adventure type science fiction book, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are, to date, some thirty-two Commonwealth books in the series and none are overly long. These could provide some light weekend, or holiday, reading for many months.

Cover of The Man-Kzin Wars

The Man-Kzin Wars created by Larry Niven. The Man-Kzin Wars are not your typical ‘war’ stories. These books are groups of short story to novel length chapters in the conflict between the Kzinti race and Humans set in Larry Niven’s Known Universe. The stories themselves are written by authors like Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, S. M. Stirling, and several others. They are all complete, but often connected to one another.

The thing that is most unique about the series is that the actual war doesn’t figure all that prominently in the stories. Oh, battles and fights do take place, but they aren’t the sole reason for the story in the first place. They are entirely character driven and you see the war from points of view on all sides.

The entire Man-Kzin series, of which there are sixteen volumes, read like salty snacks. You are only going to read one, but you keep going back for more until you’ve reached the bottom and wonder where they all went. Perfect for a weekend of reading.

Cover of Ringworld by Larry Niven

While we’re on the subject of Larry Niven’s Known Space Universe, I’ll have to add Ringworld. Written in 1970, Ringworld is a story of pure exploration adventure that follows the characters, Louis Wu, Speaker-to-Animals, Nessus (a Pierson’s Puppeteer), and the preternaturally lucky Teela Brown to an artificial world constructed around a distant star.

I’ve read Ringworld many times and I can never get over the scale of the Ringworld itself. It’s a ribbon world that is 1 astronomical unit in radius, 1.6 million kilometres wide with walls 1,600 kilometres high. This thing is huge, and we only get to see a very, very tiny portion of it.

The Ringworld story is one that is referred to in science fiction as a BDO story, or Big Dumb Object. The object is the reason the story takes place. There are many such stories in science fiction, and Ringworld is one of the best.

Cover of The Colour of Magic. The first Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett.

Perhaps you aren’t in the mood for science fiction, perhaps you’re in the mood for a little light magical nonsense. Then look no further than the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. The Discworld is a flat disc carried on the back of four giant elephants, riding the back of a giant turtle through space. And while there is magic on Discworld, it often doesn’t work in the way either you or the characters intend or expect.

Terry Pratchett started Discworld as a satire of fantasy stories of the time, but his wickedly sharp sense of humour and bald-faced mockery won him millions of fans around the world. It also earned him a packet of money, but that’s not really the point of this post.

There are forty-one books that comprise the Discworld series, with many recurring characters, threads, storylines, and jokes. However, with the exception of a few stories, you can pretty much pick anyone up and read them with any regard to the rest. These stories are so well written and so enjoyable that you will most like find yourself on the last page and wonder how come it took so little time to read.

P. G. Wodehouse
P. G. Wodehouse

Lastly, will recommend anything, and I do mean anything, by P. G. Wodehouse. Wodehouse was a genius storyteller and had such a gift for humorously piquing the human spirit that it should be required reading in all classrooms. However, anything taught to children is often thought to be dull and uninteresting by those pupils, regardless of whether it is or not.

These are just a few possibilities for a quick weekend read. We don’t always have to get bogged down into some massive tome to justify reading. A fast, enjoyable read is often refreshing and an excellent way to recharge after a long hard week of work. They could be considered mini-breaks for your mind and imagination.

By reading books like these I’ve mentioned and others, you don’t need to spend your entire weekend in a book, but often no more than you would in the theatre, cinema, or in front of the television. The rewards will quickly become evident to you.

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