The quest for fiction

Now that the Drupal book I am helping co-author is off to the editors, I’m finding a desire to read again in my newly (and temporarily) free evenings. I’m definitely in an escapist mood, so I’ve turned to good ole scifi and fantasy fiction. The only problem is that I am a finicky reader. Everyone has their own flavor or pickiness when it comes to books I think. It doesn’t help that I can’t articulate what I like or don’t like very well. Books are a lot like wine for me: I like what I like and I know the things I’m typically going to hate a mile away. Not much for people to go on. I will sometimes list my a few of my favorite books (recently I tweeted on that and I need to check out some authors that came back as recommendations) but different people can love the same book for very different reasons. I love certain books for different reasons or at various levels of fealty depending on numerous things going on in my life. At the end of the day, I guess it is just a matter of wading into the text and catching the big one in a quiet lake right before dawn – if the fiction gods so choose to smile upon me.

In a fit of pique the other night I ran out to the library and picked up a few “classics” to take for a spin. I picked up the first two David Eddings books in the Belgariad series and also Orson Scott Card‘s “Ender’s Game.” I’m done with “Ender’s Game” and found it interesting in a number of ways, but I’m not particularly driven to go read the others in the Enderverse. The David Eddings books are OK, and I’m reading through the second one now, but more because I want to read a book than because I really feel drawn into the story. So, I’m kind of striking out.

Now, in my twitter, I mentioned one of my favorite scifi books, Ursula LeGuin‘s “Left Hand of Darkness.” I’m pretty much a huge fan of LeGuin’s, due in large part to the true humanity of her characters with all their flaws and brilliance. In response to that tweet, I got back a few other names I need to track down: Steven Brust, Neil Stephenson, and Lois McMaster Bujold. I also got Philip K. Dick, and I have read a fair amount of him and do love his books too. I find that I sometimes have to “be in the mood”, whatever that means, to read him sometimes though. I’ve also read a lot of them and so I’ve tapped a lot of that mine.

I’m also a big fan (of course) of Tolkien and I have read those books so many times. I haven’t gone back to read them since the horrible movies came out (yeah, I’m a hater), though I suspect I will again in the next few years since a I can’t seem to stay away for more than a decade. (I actually sat down the evening after watching the first movie and reread the whole series because I was so annoyed by the movie.) For other smatterings of random book directions, yes, I read all of the Harry Potters and I read Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series. I read the whole thing and while I at least felt drawn to know WTH was going on enough to keep reading, I wasn’t really satisfied by the books and wouldn’t be inspired to read more of his work. I love Terry Pratchett and rip through his books at a fierce rate, though they are really more on the hilariously entertaining side of things than the deep, soul-changing level. 😉 Other fiction that I have just loved for love’s sake off the top of my head are “Watership Down” and “Haroun and the Sea of Stories“. I went through a huge Jeanette Winterson period years ago and read every single thing, with The Passion as one of my favorites. I’ve not revisited her writing in almost a decade. I’m curious how I would react now. Oh, and I can’t forget Isaac Asimov. I spent quite a lot of time reading the entire Foundation series which was a wonderful, varied ride.

So there is a hodgepodge of fiction that I’m trying to add to. I’ve a list of three new authors to track down already but if you have other suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments.