Myke Cole tweeted a picture of a sign outside of New York’s magnificent Strand Bookstore (right), and it got me thinking: which books would I choose to meet these resolutions? Ordinarily, I find making resolutions of any kind a pointless task, as I will not stick to them (and likely not even try). But, the Strand’s list was interesting and so I thought I’d come up with some books that I could pick to follow them, should I wish to follow them. Which I still probably won’t. Here they are, in case the photo’s not clear enough:
- Read a book that intimidates you
- Read a book that is ~100 years old
- Read a short story collection
- Read a book before seeing the movie
- Read a book you’ve lied about reading
The first is interesting. I’m rarely intimidated by a book, but I think I’d pick a massive novel and/or non-fiction title: so, maybe Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and/or Robert A. Caro’s The Power Broker. I’ve started the latter, actually, and while it is excellent, its exhaustiveness is also a little exhausting in almost equal measures. Another novel could be James Clavell’s The Noble House: sequel to Tai-Pan which is one of the best books ever written (and easily one of my favourites, as well as the novel that got me reading properly). Not intimidating in terms of a single book, but maybe one of the epic Big Book fantasy series? Malazan Book of the Fallen, Stormlight Archive or Wheel of Time, perhaps? I’m interested in trying the first two, but to be honest not as interested as I am in reading many, many other series…
A book that is over 100 years old? Hm. I had thought of picking something by Virginia Woolf, but her most famous novels were all published less than 100 years ago — except, that is, for her debut, The Voyage Out (1915). I’d never heard of the novel, before looking up Woolf’s publication dates. It sounds kind of interesting, though:
The young Rachel Vinrance leaves England on her father’s ship, the Euphrosyne, on a voyage to South America. Despite being accompanied by her father and her aunt and uncle, Helen and Ridley Ambrose, the passage leads to Rachel’s awakening, both as a woman and as an individual. As the ship is wracked by storms, she finds herself romantically entangled with Richard Dalloway, an encounter that leaves her troubled and confused.
Upon arrival in Santa Marina, Rachel strikes off alone to contemplate her identity, and finds finds herself with the aspiring novelist Terence Hewet. As the emerging romance between the two is complicated by their disagreements about gender and art, another storm, and tragedy, appear on the horizon.
Other novels that could work: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), John Hay’s Democracy (1880)…
Reading story collections isn’t really something that I’m new to, but I do read fewer anthologies than I do novels and novellas. I’m rather tempted by Benjamin Percy’s The Language of Elk and Refresh Refresh, though, as I loved Red Moon [review], and am so very excited for The Dead Lands.
Read the book before I see the movie? I’d hoped this would be Joe Hill’s Horns, but Alyssa gave me the movie for Christmas, so I feel we will end up watching it before I can read the novel. I could cheat, and point to Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys, which is being adapted for screen by Aaron Sorkin? But yeah, that’s a real big cheat… Oh, maybe Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay? I’ve seen the first two movies, but never read the trilogy. I do have them already, too, so I don’t really have any excuse.
A book I’ve lied about reading…? I’ve never felt the need to lie about having read a book. If I haven’t read something, I don’t say I have, because that’s a) weird, and b) bound to lead to embarrassment. So I guess I get to skip this one. Or, I could change it to: “Read a book everyone else has read but you haven’t”? So I guess that would be most of the English Literature classics people were taught in class, but because my year was invariably an “experimental” one, we didn’t. There are so very many, so I won’t list them here. This one could double up with the over 100 years old resolution.
Which books would you pick, if you were following the Strand’s resolutions?
While I’m at it, if you haven’t read Myke’s novels, then you really should: Control Point, Fortress Frontier and Breach Zone make up his debut trilogy, Shadow Ops. Later this year, Ace Books (US) and Headline (UK) are publishing a stand-alone prequel, Gemini Cell. Military fantasy at its best, well worth checking out.