If you’re anything like me as a reader you have probably bought many more books than you can easily read. You are reading something that you are really enjoying and with those thoughts in mind you pick up one or two (or seven) books along the same lines only to be distracted by yet another reading interest. Now you may return to previously purchased books and read them, however it is inevitable that one or two will get missed and forgotten for quite some time.
With the unfortunate reality we are facing and the enforced isolation of the a.Covid-19 pandemic, this is a good opportunity to fill in the gaps in your reading life. Over the next two to four weeks I will be using my sudden additional free time to read books I have been putting off.
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
I was at university in 1992 when A Fire Upon the Deep was first published. Admittedly I have very little time for casual reading during that time, but when the book shared the Hugo Award with Doomsday Book by Connie Willis in 1993 I scraped what little extra money I could together and bought a copy. I promised myself that as soon as I finished the term I would read it. Well, as many students know, things don’t always go to plan and A Fire Upon the Deep sat on my bookshelf for years, then got lost, then found, then damaged in a flood.
I bought a second copy and that languished for several years. Now I have pulled it out and is currently the book I’m reading. I’m only a little way in and it’s living up to its reputation nicely.
Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
I’ve had Footfall even longer A Fire Upon the Deep. It was published in 1985 and I got a copy when it was published in paperback. I was already a fan of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle and had no qualms about spending my bit of pocket money on this book. However, in the mid 1980s, I was deeply enthralled with all things cyberpunk. I was reading any and every story I could get my hands on anything remotely connected to the cyberpunk sub-genre. Books like Neruomancer, Count Zero, Schismatrix, Islands in the Net, Synners, Hardwired, When Gravity Fails and so many others made me put Footfall on the shelf all these years.
With this unexpected halt to everyday life I will be returning to this overlooked book of my youth. An alien invasion might not be everyone’s idea of a diverting story at this time, but Niven and Pournelle have written many great stories so I fully expect to be engaged by this one.
Dodger by Terry Pratchett
The late Sir Terry Pratchett is world famous for his Discworld series of fantasy novels, but he’s also written many books outside the Discworld universe. Dodger, published in 2012, is set in Victorian England where the main character Dodger lives by his wits. If you have read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens then you will immediately recognize the reference to Jack Dawkins’ moniker.
I have been putting off reading Dodger for the simple reason that I haven’t finished the Discworld series yet. I told myself that I would save it until I had completed all forty-one books that it comprises. That is turning out to be a tall order as I came late to Discworld simply because I had put the ones I had acquired on the shelf along with so many other books I intended to read (you’re probably seeing a pattern here).
However, despite not having completed the Discworld series yet, I think this would be an excellent time to read Dodger and immerse myself in Sir Terry’s often joyous prose. If there was ever a time for joy, it’s now.
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
The Gormenghast trilogy is comprised of Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone. These seminal works of fantasy have had far reaching influence on the fantasy genre. Authors such as Neil Gaiman, China China Miéville, Michael Moorcock, and M. John Harrison acknowledge these books as having inspired their own work.
These gothic fantasies have a unique and haunting voice and should stand shoulder to shoulder with works like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia as works of outstanding imagination. I have had these books for many years and always intended to read them, but whenever this style of story has been what I wanted to read I’ve turned to more overtly fantastic stories. The Gormenghast Trilogy is more subtle and thought provoking than that when you read the stories it has influenced.
Thought provoking fantasy is certainly a quality readers can use more of on aregular basis.
Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks
Iain M. Banks was a master of science fiction imagination. His Culture series is one of the most inspiring and beloved creations in all of science fiction and his passing is still lamented by science fiction fans the world over.
Against a Dark Background has been on my shelf for a long time. I didn’t read it initially because I was still at uni and didn’t have the time. Now I have been holding off reading it because it’s the last of Banks’ science fiction works that I have not read. I have pulled off the shelf many times since I first heard that Banks was ill, but I’ve always returned it to the shelf because as long as it was there I would always have an Iain M. Banks novel that I hadn’t read yet.
It has been almost seven years since cancer took Banks from us and its time that I read this book. Banks wrote it to be read and I’m not doing him or myself any favours by letting it gather dust without experiencing the story within. Now is the time to read it and make this enforced period of isolation work for me.
These are some the books that I haven’t read for one reason or another. Some for good reasons and some for bad, but regardless of the reason I want to use this time to rectify these errors.
Have you got books you have been meaning to read and haven’t gotten to them yet? If so now could be an excellent opportunity to change that. It would interesting to know what books you feel you’ve missed and why?