Category Archives: books

Reading Update

The reading project is going pretty well. About to finish book #8 for the year.

Looking at more recent science fiction, it is nearly impossible to find a good standalone novel. Everything seems to be part of a massive series, or a trilogy of books that are all 600 pages long. There are a few that look good, but I can’t keep a whole bunch of series straight in my mind at the same time. So while some of the older standalone novels are a bit rough around the edges in a lot of ways, I think I’ll stick to them between reading the two series I’ve been working on.

More On Reading

This year’s reading is going well. I’m on book #6 for the year, and finally might catch up on my Goodreads Challenge, as I’m only one book behind now. I got a slow start in January, but that’s fine. This isn’t supposed to be a stress-inducing thing. Just a goal.

I’m not rushing through the books. The idea of bumping my yearly goal up to 36 from 20 is simply to help me waste less time doing pretty much nothing. I’m reading at a relaxed pace and enjoying the books, not just cranking through them like a project to check them off the list when I’m done.

I’ve been doing a lot of “research” (which means mostly watching YouTube videos) about reading habits and how people approach daily reading. The first thing that became apparent is that there are lot of “BookTubers” out there, and everyone has lots of opinions. People I talk to in-person have lots of opinions, and I seek these out because I really want to know what people are doing with their reading and what they get from it.

I’m approaching one year of doing my 5% Reading Goal every day. I think my ability to focus and not get distracted by shiny objects (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) has improved a lot. I’ve also gotten much better at being able to sit and read, then talk with my wife for a bit or pet the dog or cat, then get right back to my reading and not feel like I lost my place. Essentially I’m using sustained reading to rehabilitate the concentration and focus that I’ve spent the last 20 years destroying with social media.

I’ve talked to people who say they just can’t concentrate on a book. Well, of course you can’t. You have been trained not to. The TV and the Internet don’t want you to. Sure, most of us are literate to the extent we can read, but like anything else reading is a skill, and you get better at it with practice. That’s why I think if you don’t read books now, it is good to start with tiny goals, like reading one page without checking your phone, and move up from there.

It’s given me a daily and yearly sense of accomplishment. If I read my 5% I never end my day feeling like I didn’t do anything for myself.

More SF Nerd Stuff

I made an attempt to read And Chaos Died the other night, by the late Joanna Russ.

I say “attempt” because about 5 pages in I realized it is not a casual read. This isn’t one to read while you watch America’s Funniest Home Videos. It will require some dedicated attention, solitude, and a non-weary mind. None of which I had the other night.

So I began Alan Dean Foster’s “Drowning World”, the fourth (chronological in-universe) of his standalone Humanx Commonwealth novels.

Here’s the thing about ADF. He’s not going to blow your mind with state of the art science fiction ideas, speculative science, hallucinogenic mind-fucks, or experimental narrative styles and structures. ADF tells a good, solid, entertaining science fiction story within his fictional universe. Within those stories you will find some humor, some surprises, and in this era of depressing “the universe hates us” science fiction ADF offers adventure and optimism (not unlike Star Trek).

ADF will drop you on to an alien planet, introduce you to weird aliens with weird names, and a hour later the names don’t seem weird and the aliens are beings you might even relate to. He’ll tell you one small story — one of thousands of possible stories — based in his setting.

There is something to be said for a novel you can just read and don’t  have to decipher.

September 2023 Reading

Another good reading month is coming to a close. In September I read four science fiction novels, and with a day left I am about 40% through #5. I suspect that that fifth will have to wait until October to get fished, but I have a good start!

Can’t remember if I mentioned this, but I sent a fan email to Alan Dean Foster and he sent me back a two line reply. I was geeking out. It was cool.

Anyway, I started with the next two standalone by Alan Dean Foster, set in his Humanx Commonwealth universe. Both were good. Then I read Robert Silverberg’s To Open the Sky, which is kind of classic Silverberg stuff and quite enjoyable. Finished the month with #20 in the Dumarest of Terra saga, by British SF author E.C. Tubb.

I am now reading Blood Music, the 1985 novel by Greg Bear. This is the first SF novel I’ve read in a while that isn’t space-oriented. I’m about 40% into it, and it’s good.

The reading is mostly being accomplished in the evenings from 8pm-10pm. There have been a couple of nights where I read my minimum-allowable-amount of 5%. As I continue this practice I’m finding that


Reading n stuff

Finished reading my 15th novel of the year today at lunch.

I know I keep harping on this, but it feels good. It feels like an accomplishment. While I do have a 20-book goal for the year, I’m not just trying to race through these novels. There is no point in that. I’m reading at an enjoyable, casual speed and really immersing myself in them. It is the consistency of ready at least 5% of a novel every day this is creating the success because it is becoming 1) something I look forward to and 2) a habit.

Tonight I’m starting a novel by SF author Robert Silverberg. I’ve read a number of his novels and they have been enjoyable. While I knew of him already, a few years ago I read his short story The Iron Star in this anthology of space opera and military SF. I was kinda blown away by the emotional and ethical impact of this story and it made me a fan. Silverberg, like many of his generation of authors, really started writing in the SF magazines and went through a formative period in which he wrote a hell of a lot of stuff. The material I’ve read is from his “mature author” era. His work from this period can be a bit more cerebral than some of the adventure space opera stuff I’ve been reading a lot of lately. It will be a good shift for me.