Accepting a Reading Challenge

I like to read.

That may be an understatement.

I’ve never considered reading a challenge but, instead, seem to devour books, beginning to end, with an alacrity that hints at addiction.

I read less these days because I find it difficult to manage that addiction.

necroscopeI remember one late December in my mid-teens, collecting the entire Necroscope series (5 thick tomes), from Huddersfield‘s Greenhead Books (now split into a charity shop and a shoe shop).

I locked myself in my bedroom for three days (two nights) and read them end to end.

It shocked me.  I’d always been able to read shorter novels in good time but I’d never dedicated so much time purely to the pursuit of reading.  My earlier exposure to such classics as Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings or Herbert’s Dune had taught me to savour each chapter and take time over the books I read – but Brian Lumley‘s original quintet of pulp horror and psychic heroism broke those chains.

Many people say that certain books are “un-put-downable” – for me, most books follow that description.  Of the few books I have encountered that I have been able to easily put down, many have ended up launched as bumf, dross not worth the paper they’re printed upon.  (Stephen King’s Tommy Knockers and the first Sookie Stackhouse story by Charlaine Harris – I’m thinking of you here).

So the concept of a reading challenge actually, well, challenges me… a number of levels.

Firstly, whilst I would say I am particularly well read, I do tend to opt for trash fantasy, pulp horror and science fiction.  Avoiding the kind of novels that my absolute idiot of an English Teacher forced upon me at GCSE.

I accept I had an abnormal reading age compared to my peers, I remember the protests my infant school teacher made when I insisted on us reading Gulliver’s Travels
in class.  I just didn’t understand that my peers were happy with Meg & Mog – I certainly wasn’t.

If only we had been offered The Shadow Over Innsmouth or Warhound and the World’s Pain instead of The Cay and Cry, the Beloved Country.

I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that I seek comfort in tales of heroism, sword and sorcery out of some kind of childish rebellion against the trivia spoonfed to me over two decades ago, at school.

Things improved at college, I had a wonderful lecturer in German who introduced me to Brecht, Süskind and Kafka; for the first time, not only did I understand why I should broaden my literary horizons but also that there really were no boundaries.  She also taught me how to properly review a book, something that nobody had bothered to do throughout my whole academic career.

Secondly, as hinted at earlier, I rarely find time to read properly these days.  I either schedule a short amount of time in and therefore don’t really enjoy it or I start and find it difficult to stop.  Many a grumpy day at work has been the cause of a reluctant three am break in a really good book.

And so, it is with some sense of caution and excitement, that I take up the gauntlet set down by a pair of book reviewers that I follow: The Insatiable Booksluts.   You can find full details on the challenges they have set by clicking on the image below.

Join the challenge!

To make this properly a challenge for me, I’m going to actually try their first two challenges, “Toe Dippin'” and “Full Frontal”.  I’d like to try my hand at “Jet Setter” and “Genre Buster” as well but we’ll see how I do with the non-standard offerings in the Noble Laureate and Pulitzer sections first… and there’s always the “Extra Credit” challenge.

I’m actually well set up to start with as a work colleague has lent me the pulitzer prize winning The Road.  I’ll read it shortly and post a brief review up here as a way of proving my progress towards the challenge.  I’ll try tag the reviews under “Reading Challenge” or “IBC” or something like that to make them easier to collate; I’ll also try to remember to title them in some way so as to allow the posts to be ignored by people who don’t really care about my reading habits.


11 thoughts on “Accepting a Reading Challenge

  1. ooh, ooh ooh!! Thank you for the link to those guys and the challenge. I accept, immediatley, with no thoughts to the fact that I am doing a masters and have a pile of reading to do!!

    I too know the pain of struggling through a days work because I have been reading till 3 am and I really do not function well on a lack of sleep.

    I’m going for genre busting first, as I do have a tendancy to stick to sci-fi/fantasy.

    Oh and I totally hear you on the bloody Sookie Stackhouse – I read the first two, mainly becuase I could not believe that someone who was so bad at writing managed to get a book published. It seriously was terrible. I didn’t read anymore after that.

    Thanks again!

    • No Worries 🙂

      Honestly – a few chapters in and Stackhouse was launched across the living room!

      Amazon keep recommending similar books because I regularly buy the latest Laurell K Hamilton offerings (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter – which started off all supernatural pulp and became supernatural erotica – and Merry Gentry – which started off supernatural erotica and is becoming supernatural pulp).

      I want to do the genre busting, if only for the Hugo awards – Stross is a nominee rather than a winner but surely he classes towards the challenge… right? 😉 But for it to be a real challenge I’m going for books that aren’t my usual flavour. The Road is kind of cheating… firstly because it is already on my list of books to read and secondly because it could be classed as Sci-Fi, horror or at most accurate – Future Shock – being a post-apocalytic piece (initially inspired to read it by Fallout 3 and Fallout New-Vegas).

  2. Pingback: Book challenge. « Dark Purple Moon

  3. yes, the Blake did become rather erotic, it was most inappropriate in the hospital waiting room ;-s

    I really rather like the Rachel Morgan ones – a nice combination of all the things i like – namley an arse kicking woman! I don’t know Merry Gentry, I will look into that.

    I am cross now by the way, becauase I had planned an early night and I am still here, having written a blog post and chosen my genre busting ones and ordered them from the library. I have tried very hard to go for ones that I wouldn’t normally go for and I have been strict and stuck to winners only.

    I have set up a new catagory on my blog and will review each one as I am done with them.

    I will blame you when I am still up at 3am reading any of them!

  4. I hardly read anymore, certainly not in comparison to my intake as a child. That said, in the past 11 months since receiving a Kindle I have read more books than in the entire ten years which went before. I highly recommend the kindle, although would suggest any one who does not have one to wait until the ‘fire’ comes out, or at least the ‘touch’. Both the ad-subsidized current model and the none-‘Keyboard’ one are in my opinion a terrible con.

    My taste is very basic. Childish in fact; naive. I think that is largely why I stopped reading. I enjoy straightforward adventure stories, well-researched historical fiction and science or medical non-fiction. I do not like any sexual content at all and if a ‘love scene’ appears will skip to the next chapter. Graphic violence receives the same treatment. Essentially I do not want anything that challenges me – ironically!

  5. Which primary school teacher was that? I recall being forced to read boring stories about pirates looking for treasure. It was a relief to discard the reading list when a relation gave me an Agatha Christie novel to read.

  6. Pingback: The Road – Cormac McCarthy « Armaitus on…

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