Earlier this year I went to a used book sale. Featured here is my small haul. Have I read any of them yet? No. Do I plan on reading them? Definitely. The goal: to get it done between now and the end of the year (we’ll see if it happens!). So as you might might be able to tell, these are are four very different books, and all of which, I realized, I picked out for very different reasons. There is a common thread here—each is connected to something else I have either read or seen already. Hope you enjoy the breakdown!
I grabbed The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, primarily because I want to watch the film. I want to watch the film because The Lord of the Rings was such an important trilogy to me and my friends when we were in high school. So what do these things have to do with each other? Well, they had the same director, Peter Jackson. Also, as much as I loved The Lord of the Rings movies, I hated—to the exact same proportions, if not more—those awful Hobbit films. Though I’ve been able to read quite a bit online about just what went wrong with Jackson’s return to Middle Earth, I also have enjoyed learning about what he did between both projects (and I have watched King Kong already). I dislike watching a film based on a book if I haven’t read the book first, so here we go.
I got Old Man’s War by John Scalzi because I have read The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and the two novels are OFTEN compared. Forever deserves its spot in the top 100 speculative fiction novels ever published (I really like this NPR list), and the spinoff fiction Haldeman has published is equally as good. I’ve also heard Old Man’s War compared to Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, and Armor by John Steakley. Those latter three are NOT about wars that span centuries, but all five of the works listed here do share the common thread of a space war that utterly dehumanizes that individuals who are in it, despite the fact that everyone is fighting for humanity’s survival. So we’ll see how Scalzi’s work holds up, because I’ve never read him, but I think it should be good.
I snagged The Years of Rice and Salt on purely name recognition. I’d actually never heard of it before, and even after reading the back I’m not entirely sure that “get” what it’s about. However, I do know that the author, Kim Stanley Robinson, wrote what I consider the greatest scifi trilogy of all time. This would the three novels Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. Also, if you like those but where unaware there was a little bit more to the saga, there’s also a short story collection called The Martians. But anyway, these texts all about terraforming mars. There are no aliens. In the latter books, there isn’t even that much drama. It’s all hard science, including climatology and soil studies and all sorts of things you wouldn’t think would be interesting in fiction, but it’s all fascinatingly educational. So hopefully next I’ll be learning about rice and salt?
Last-but-not-least, Gulliver’s Travels and Other Writings by Jonathan Swift; reasons should be apparent, right? Of course I am familiar with Swift from high school and college, but he isn’t an author I regularly pick up. But last year I brushed up on “A Modest Proposal” for school (that’s the essay about eating Irish babies), and I realized that I had forgotten what a whit the man was. I’ve read Gulliver, as well as “A Tale in of a Tub,” but nothing else of Swift’s other short works, so now was as good a time as any to get back to reading some classic satire.
And that’s what I picked up and why! I would love to hear your thoughts on anything I wrote, and as Thanksgiving approaches, safe travels—and happy reading, if you can find the time—to everyone!
–Jeff and Leah