KayoAye

Backshelf: A Reading Backlog Challenge

26 posts in this topic

Reading backlogs can be just as intimidating as gaming ones. If you're anything like me, it's actually ten times worse. In this event we're going crack the spine on just a few of those books and see if they're worth hanging onto.

 

The Challenge:
Pick four books from your reading backlog and spend a week with each over the month of June. Read enough of the book to get an idea of whether the plot/characters/pacing/writing style/whatever is what your looking for in a book, ideally around 50 pages. At the end of the week you'll report back and let us know if the book is worth really digging into.

 

The Books:

Part of the joy of gaming and reading is exploring new worlds, characters, and perspectives. With that in mind, I'll be encouraging variety in your choice of books. Three of the books should come from different genre and the 4th should be a different format(e.g. ebook, audiobook, comic/manga collection). This won't be a hard requirement so we don't need to split hairs over the difference between cosmic horror and terror to make something fit, but reading too many similar things has made me personally hit a wall in the past and that's what we're trying to avoid here!

 

For the first 3 books, any book you own that you have not completed is eligible. If you want to use a book you're halfway through but put down 7 months ago and can't remember why, that's fine. This is all about picking up those forgotten tomes.

 

The 4th book is about encouraging us to read in ways and places you may not be used to. For this one if you don't own a book that fits the category you may have access to one and don't realize it. A lot libraries have audiobooks and comics available or Project Gutenberg has a ton of ebook out of copywrite available for free. We can talk about other options too if this requirement is just too tough for some people.

 

The Reporting:
Participants will post about each book twice, once at the beginning and once at the end.

 

For the first post tell us a little about the book, why you got it, and why you ultimately shelved it without finishing or even starting it.

 

For the second post let us know if the book is living up to your expectations and what you like/dislike about it. Instead of rating, since we're only seeing the beginning of the story, decide whether you want to finish the book, reshelve it, or get rid of it.

 

To join the challenge simply post below saying you want to join and have your four books selected by the 1st.

 

The Schedule:

June 1-3: Book 1 Intro

June 7-8: Book 1 Outro

June 9-10: Book 2 Intro

June 14-15: Book 2 Outro

June 16-17: Book 3 Intro

June 21-22: Book 3 Outro

June 23-24: Book 4 Intro

June 29-30: Book 4 Outro

 

The Participants:

 

XX_FTW's List:

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (Sci-Fi/audiobook) ✔️✅

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee (Play/physical book)

Atomic Habits by James Clear (Non-Fiction)

Aesop’s Fables by Aesop (Fables/serialized ebook)

 

AffectatiousDonk's List:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (Classics/physical book) ✔️✅

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation by Blake Harris (Non-Fiction/ebook)

Pending

Pending

 

kingofbattle8174's List:

Armor by ?John Steakley?  (Sci-Fi/physical book)

Pending

Pending

Pending

 

AmarisSkye's List:

The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin and translated by Ken Liu (Sci-Fi/physical book)✔️✅

Watership Down by Richard Adams (Classics/ebook)

Pending

Pending

 

KayoAye's List:

The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells (Sci-Fi/physical book) ✔️✅

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (Mystery/physical book)✔️

The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud (YA Fantasy/physical book)

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch (Historical/ebook)

 

Since this is my first outing at this kind of thing any and all feedback is welcome. I'd like to thank everyone one who has started a challenge here in the Community Events section, they're always interesting to read through and see other people's thoughts on games in real time. Particularly I'd like to thank the We Read events for the idea of trying a reading event and @voodoo_eyes for letting me borrow heavily from the KYC style.

Edited by KayoAye
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome, updated the OP. Thanks for signing up!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great idea, thanks for hosting. I would like to join too. I will have the list up this month.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, cjshaitan said:

Great idea, thanks for hosting. I would like to join too. I will have the list up this month.

 

Nice! Got you added.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey all, I've updated the OP to include a rough schedule for us. Happy reading!

 

My first book is The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells. From the back:

Quote

A troubled insomniac in 1890s England falls suddenly into a sleep-like trance, from which he does not wake for over two hundred years. During his centuries of slumber, however, investments are made that make him the richest and most powerful man on Earth. But when he comes out of his trance he is horrified to discover that the money accumulated in his name is being used to maintain a hierarchical society in which most people are poor and enslaved. Oppressed and uneducated, the masses cling desperately to one dream - that the Sleeper will awake, and lead them all to freedom.

 

I've had this book a long time. I think I asked for a lot of books when I was younger because I recognized the author's name as being important more than I was actually interested in the book. It didn't occur to me that this wasn't one of the famous ones, like War of the Worlds or Dr. Moreau, and that it might be less remembered for a reason. I remember vaguely feeling confused the first time I read this and that that really turned me off from it. I'm hoping that it was just me being young and not the writing, seeing as who the author is I'm willing to bet it was me.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My List

  • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (audiobook)
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee (physical book)
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear 
  • Aesop’s Fables by Aesop (serialized ebook)

I have SG checked out from the library and own WAoVW. I have holds on AH in several formats (and have for awhile. this book is so popular!) so which ever comes through soonest will be the format I choose. I’m going to try out the Serial Reader app for AF so it will deliver a daily segment of this public domain book.

 

Book One - Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

 

“A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, andThe Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?”

 

I copied that from the website description but have only read the bold part. So I don’t really know anything about it and that’s okay. I like going in blind. Heard about this book somewhere I don’t remember and the impressions were so compelling that I immediately requested the book from the library. So let’s see.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologise for my slow response, time is just flying by but I am ready to jump in. Will add the rest of the books in the next few days.

 

Book One : Atlas Shrugged (1957) - Ayn Rand

 

So where does one start with Atlas Shrugged, considered the pinnacle of Ayn Rand's oeuvre. Ironically I came across this book a few years ago after listening to Colin Moriarty bang on about how it changed his life perspective. Fitting perhaps then to select it for a reading book club on an online gaming website. 

 

I have been reading this book on and off for the last 2 years, which is ridiculous and I really need to finish it. I have about a 1/3 to go. The book is perhaps one of the finest pieces of literature one can consume while undergoing their own personal existential life crisis. I am not sure if I was already at this point before starting the book or if Ayn Rand lulled me into a passive receptivity for radicalisation. Either way I find the book to be fascinating, filled with a clarity of being that one arrives at in their 30's after the general jadedness of life settles comfortably on ones shoulders. Her exploration of Objectivism, general distaste for the sheep mentality and her championing of the individual happiness and fulfilment of life gained by ones on actions in contrast to the collective whinge that is modern day life is both as exhilarating as it is terrifying. Reasoned selfishness is a lovely imperative that I have a feeling is only ever attainted by those that don't have children, exemplified perfectly by the protagonist Dagny. If this book has taught me anything it is to hold people to higher account, demand deeper meaning and rejoice in intellectual conversation. 

 

I would envisage this is a meaningless book in you teens, a dangerous book in your 20s and an impassioned cry for action in your 30s as you ponder it from the conformity of the comfort of your arm chair and glass of red. 

 

 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a great idea! I don't think I will have the willpower to read it for a week and then move on though lol.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am in. I have been trying to get through my multi book shelves to clear them. I have plenty to choose from. My first one is called Armor, author I dont know at the moment. It is a sort of sci fi story close to Starship Troopers.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that we've launched and there's some more interest I'm going to extend entry until the end of the first week. I feel more perspectives will bring in more rewarding conversation. I've got the OP updated and we've got some really interesting books already!

 

I've never heard of Sleeping Giants but the description is really intriguing. I'm really drawn to the premise of the faceless interrogator, it invokes Childhood's End which is the first Arthur C. Clark novel I read and really loved.

 

AffectatiousDonk, I'm sorry I missed updating your name, I'll get it in the next pass of the OP. You picked a really tough one for your first book. I read that originally in '09 or '10 when I played Bioshock for the first time. I picked it up because I had read the book's philosophy influenced the game and boy did it ever. I think it took me half a year to get through. My opinion of it has changed as time goes on and I found myself arguing against it recently with my sister because she read it last fall. It's too black and white for me. I feel like it doesn't get viewed as a fable, which it need to be to have value. Again a decade has passed, but I look at it now as glossing over too much in its staunch position of doers and user, right and wrong. There was also a speech I found insufferable because I hate being talked down to even if I deserve it sometimes. The fact that you're a good way through it though is awesome, good luck on the home stretch.

 

@kingofbattle8174 I used my best guess from the information you provided on the author. Starship Troopers I only know from the movie, but that's fantastic. I got my own Starship-like in my backlog called Old Man's War so I understand the appeal. Let us know which it is for sure!

 

@freddie1989 I completely understand, I'm normally the same way. This is my way of stretching and not making myself follow through with something I don't enjoy. I encourage you to come join us and if it's not working halfway through and you want to bow out that's fine. We're here to foster reading, not scare people away.

 

Happy reading everyone!

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to join if possible. My first book will be The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin and translated by Ken Liu (Liu Cixin is Chinese and therefore his surname is listed first while Ken Liu is American and uses the English order with the surname second).

 

"The Three-Body Problem (Chinese: 三体; literally: 'Three-Body'; pinyin: sān tǐ) is a hard science fiction novel by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin. It is the first novel of the Remembrance of Earth's Past (Chinese: 地球往事) trilogy, but Chinese readers generally refer to the whole series by the title of this first novel.[1]The second and third novels in the trilogy are titled The Dark Forest and Death's End. The title of the first novel refers to the three-body problem in orbital mechanics." (From WikiPedia)

 

"Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision." (Synopsis on the back of the book)

 

I chose this book because one of my staff was reading the second in the series and knew I enjoyed Sci-Fi so he told me about it. I am particularly interested in hard sci-fi (which this is) & am excited to read a book written by a Chinese author as his worldview & perspective is bound to be different than my own. This is technically not from my backlog of owned books but it's something that I've been intending to acquire/read for about two months now & FINALLY just asked my staff if I could borrow his copy so I would stop dragging my feet about starting to read it.

 

I'll choose my other books when I do my intro post for each.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

1 hour ago, KayoAye said:

Again a decade has passed, but I look at it now as glossing over too much in its staunch position of doers and user, right and wrong. There was also a speech I found insufferable because I hate being talked down to even if I deserve it sometimes.

 

I move back and forward still, I think that is why it is taking me so long to finish it. I had to smile at the second part, nothing like a good talking down too from a supposed moral authority. I look forward to an interesting conversation at the end of this period.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Got you entered in AmarisSkye. The three body problem I feel like is a phrase I've heard or read before, probably just from science or science-fiction reading in general. I'm excited that you picked a translated novel, we can make that a top level genre if you want to choose another sci-fi book. As for the setting, China's Cultural Revolution is a really awesome backdrop. I only know a bit about it from a class on Chinese cinema I took, but I'm interested to hear you thoughts! 

 

AffectatiousDonk, I'm gonna have to do some rereading to deliver on that conversation. I hope some of the other participants have read a bit of it.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Outro for The Three-Body Problem

 

When I initially started reading the book it took me a little bit of effort to get used to the similarities in the names since surnames are used first in the Chinese language. Once I delved in though, the characters really speak for themselves in the way they are written. That is to say by paying attention to what they do and how they do it, it's easy to keep track of who is who.

 

I finished the entirety of Part I of the book which is titled Silent Spring - a reference to an actual book by Rachel Carson which was published in 1962. This book is read by one of the main characters, Ye Wenjie, and gets her into further trouble with the Red Coast as she is already stationed at a re-education camp and the book is considered contraband. This beginning portion of the book focuses almost entirely on the Chinese Cultural Revolution and it's impact on Ye Wenjie. There is very little sci-fi in this portion of the book but the world pulls you in completely. It really sets the backdrop.

 

I am definitely going to continue reading this book and at the rate I'm going it should only take about seven more hours of actively reading for me to finish it. The writing is superb and I am actually going to struggle to put this down to start a different book.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Sleeper Awakes Outro: Reading Progress 54 pages

 

So I can absolutely see why I wasn't drawn into this one when I was younger the way I was into The Time Machine. It has a similar structure,  with a third party narrating and framing events in the first couple of chapters, but it doesn't immediately jump into any kind of adventure like the latter. Instead, this seems to be a distopian political novel. There's no creeping unease,

the main character is told he is inconvienent and locked away almost immediately upon reaching the future. There's very little in the way of characterization and even after 50 pages I don't have a clear idea of any one in the book. As for the conflict, the main character is a symbol more than a person, so when he wakes up there's inevitably going to be a clash between those using him as a symbol and him trying to exert agency. I like this as a story, it reminds me vaguely of parts of The Hunger Games, but none of it is made clear in the text. I've had to piece it together from the back, supplementary material, and just general knowledge of books.

 

Some stray thoughts:

 

Two hundred years is not far enough in the future for this kind of complete remake of society.

 

I don't like when authors invent language and have their character adopt different systems to accentuate their otherness. If there's a reason that's great, but this future inexplicably uses base 12 instead of 10.

 

I'm reminded of a bunch of other stories and books and had to remind myself they were probably influenced by this, or more likely The Time Machine, or something that that was.

 

All in all, not enough here to keep me going. This one is going in the donate pile. A quarter way though a book I generally like to feel more invested in anything, but this one failed to draw me in.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems like a mixed bag so far one positive, one less so. You did better than me @KayoAye I tend to move on very quickly when I can't connect with something or find it without merit. I must ask though what time period do you think would be necessary for a complete society remake ?

 

@AmarisSkye your book sounds fascinating. I am not big on Sci Fi but the Chinese cultural revolution is a fascinating topic. It is one of those things I don't think you could believe actually happened but it did. I find China fascinating I have travelled there a few times for work in the capacity of music. They equal parts embrace the western form and also shun it. Either way you see it though I will never understand the political desire to destroy significant cultural landmarks to empower their own ideology. Of course it is constantly replayed across the world so it must just be my ignorance.

 

This is perhaps not the best update but considering the magnitude of the book one could never sum it up in a paragraph. Instead I will go with the last section I have just read which left me feeling equal parts angry and in awe. It was a sexual encounter in nature but it struck with such anger, indifference and resignation. This book continues to surprise me. It is skirting close now to academic "high art" egocentrism which I usually detest but I think it has me enthralled. I can perhaps see more of myself in it than I would like to acknowledge. I do like the choice it presents though to see society in one of 2 ways, which way you fall would be totally of your life situation and position. Interesting and divisive .......... 

 

This is a must read book. It will give you conviction in your life path but also shine a light on the other side I feel. I think there is alot of truth here it just depends on how far we are prepare to go to accept it and how deep we want to look at ourselves.

 

My next book will be an ebook : The Console Wars

Edited by AffectatiousDonk
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I, unfortunately, didn’t have as much room for audiobook listening last week, even as compared to a normal week, so I was not able to complete Sleeping Giants by Silvain Neuvel. The progress tracker says I left off at 62%. I intend to finish it.

 

Set in present day/near future, the book explores what would happen a giant mechanical body part was found buried in rural America. The giant part defies all scientific comprehension and understanding of prehistory. It seems this advanced technology may have been put here by something much farther along in their evolution than humans were at the time. An entity of some kind (it remains unclear at the point I left off) with some significant power and influence—enough to talk down to world leaders without fear of retaliation—is funding the research on this part, which leads to the discovery of additional body parts. As one can expect, there is military interest in the discovery and use of this giant or whatever it is and extracting the parts from around the globe by whatever means necessary creates both political and moral crises and personal sacrifice for the individuals involved.

 

The story is presented in a series of interviews conducted by the representative of the previously mentioned entity funding the project, recordings made by the project team, and various documents such as medical reports, military field reports, and news outlets (I can’t recall if the news was discussed in an interview or actually was a news outlet report).

 

The audiobook, specifically, I really have to applaud. Rather than the typical presentation of a single VO narrating, the audiobook handles it more like a radio play. Each character has a voice actor assigned and they are emoting in character. There aren’t any musical cues or sound effects though so not full radio play but it’s been a great listen.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My second book is Watership Down as an ebook.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry y'all, got caught up at work because I don't have the most consistent of schedule. My second book is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and the back boasts it is the best selling mystery in the world.

 

Quote

'Ten' Ten strangers lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious U.N. Owen.
'Nine' At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead.
'Eight' Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down one by one...one by one they begin to die.
'Seven' Who among them is the killer and will any one them survive?

 

A few years ago when Netflix started hosting the BBC Poirot series I really got into mysteries and of course Agatha Christie specifically. I got this book as a gift from my sister some time ago and don't know why I've been putting it off but I'm really excited to dig into it. I've already sat down to read a bit and already hit the reading goal, so might finish it this week.

@AffectatiousDonk I used to have a tremendous suspension of disbelief. I think certain sci-fi movies have made me more sceptical and I'm particularly hard on sci-fi in general. In this case there's the implication of a scientific revolution that bases everything on 12 instead of ten and that in turn infected the culture and now that's the standard. The characters are also ignorant to the time the main character came from. Progress is dependent on looking back, learning from it, and building forward. For that kind of scientific advancement and erasure of history, I feel like 200 years isn't enough. Fouur or five hundred years would have eased my suspension of disbelief.

I haven't been able to find my copy of Atlas Shrugged and I don't remember the sex scenes very well at all. I was really focused on the political/philosophical stuff so the general shape of those things is what I remember most.

 

@XX_FTW That's awesome that your audiobook has a full cast recording. I remember the first one I heard like that was the American Gods 10th anniversary release and it blew me away and had me hoping that would become the standard. It all comes down to the reader though, there are some audiobooks I couldn't imagine anyone but the one narrator doing it.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My second book is complete. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. Sandersin is easily one of my favorite authors. He rarely goes into scifi but this YA book is really a good start to a new series. Humans have been stranded on a planet and been at war for decades from beings that come out of the debris circling the planet. A girls father is part of thier flegling skyforce. In what will turn out to be the an important battle, he turns and runs and she is branded the daughter of a coward. When her time arrives she wants to be a pilot herself to prove herself and hopefully clear her fathers name.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry I didn't type up a full intro to my second book. I have been so incredibly busy that interacting on forums has been difficult lately.

 

I will have an Outro for book two (Watership Down) later today and will have an intro for my next book (once I choose it when I get home).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologies as well. Work, life blah blah. I will have something up on the weekend. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haven’t posted but I’m current on reading. I did have to make some

changes though: read Atomic Habits in Week 2 and switched in Catwoman: Soulstealer for Week 3 as it was on a timeline and I needed to return it to the owner. Atomic Habits is basically a self help book attempting to reframe how we thinking about habit formation. The Catwoman book was one of my rare treks into YA age group. It’s one of the books DC has been putting out that looks at iconic characters before they become icons. I am currently reading Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking as my last book.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Book Three I finished a bit ago and just never updated it. Juror #3 by James Patterson. Two connected cases concerning a new lawyer in Mississippi. Whether this is a stand alone or if she returns remains to be seen. The character has good possibilities, it had strife of class and race and showed a pretty honest depiction of how things still are in places unfortunately. 

 

Book four I read really quickly. One I was excited to find it and it was a good simple read. Doctor Who : Death Riders by Justin Richards. A good simple Who novel. This one has the 11thh ( Matt Smith) and his two companions Amy and Rory. They find themselves on a mining asteroid, that happens to be hosting the Galactic Fair. The main attraction is the Death Ride. Oh and people are actually dying in the tunnels for an unknown reason and how and why is it connected to the fair.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.