I admit that My Goodreads To Be Read list (TBR for short) is just too long, and needs pruning. On Goodreads, whenever I find something I fancy reading it I’ll click that ‘Want to Read’ button and it will get added to the list. I’m nowhere near as bad as some Goodreads friends, who have many hundreds of books on there, but 134 is still a bit unwieldy. So I decided this morning to make a list from a list. Here’s my Top 10. It’s a bit of a mixed back with several different genres. About half is sci-fi, the rest is an eclectic mix. Hopefully there’s something to interest you.
All links are to the Goodreads page for the book, and I’ve included the average Goodreads rating too.
- 1. Who Sent Clement? by Keith A Pearson (average Goodreads rating 4.42) – While on holiday last summer, I read The ’86 Fix by this author. It’s one of those little known books that gets amazingly good ratings on Goodreads. Turns out it was in fact awesome, as was its sequel (particularly if, like me, you like a bit of time travel). This book is not connected with those, but am hopeful will be just as good. It’s nominally sci-fi, but read it for the cultural references and general fun.
- 2. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry (average Goodreads rating 4.35) – Wendell Berry is an American agrarian philosopher (my own term) who has written much non-fiction as well as poetry. He has however also written a series of novels and short stories over the last four decades, set in the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. A Goodreads friend of mine said this novel is possibly the best place to start.
- 3. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (average Goodreads rating 3.86) – I suspect that popular as she still is in America, outside America most readers won’t have heard of Willa Cather. I love American history, and Willa Cather writes pioneer fiction set on the American western frontier. Beautifully written books that weave a magic spell, for me at least. This is the first book in her ‘Great Plains’ trilogy though you can read them in any order. I’ve previously read My Antonia which is in this series, and loved it.
- 4. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (average Goodreads rating 4.05) – I love Bill Bryson’s books, particularly his travel books. This is the last of his proper travel books I’ve not read, so I’ve been saving it but think it’s about time I read it. This one is about hiking the Appalachian trail in America.
- 5. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (average Goodreads rating 4.01)- This is relatively recent big concept science fiction. One day, all the stars disappear! Earth has been surrounded by a ‘Spin membrane’. More than 3 years pass in the universe outside for every second on Earth, which means there’s only a few years left after which the changes in the sun will mean the Earth is uninhabitable. I’m guessing the folks in the book are going to try and do something about that…
- 6. The Old Man & The Sea by Ernest Hemingway (average Goodreads rating 3.75)- I’ve long been tempted by this one. Obviously Hemingway is a master of the writing art. This is a short book, but very narrowly focused on an old fisherman trying to capture a fish. I want to find out how Hemingway manages to make such a small story into such a well regarded book.
- 7. The Life Project by Helen Pearson (average Goodreads rating 3.91) – This one has been on my wishlist for years. It’s a non-fiction book about ‘cohort studies’, a UK study that followed 150,000 people from birth to analyse their lives to help inform public policy. These studies are obscure and little known, but have had an out-sized impact on public policy, so I think shining a light on them will be fascinating for the little grey cells.
- 8. Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov (average Goodreads rating 4.22) – I read the first book, Foundation, so long ago that I can barely remember anything so I re-read it recently and really enjoyed it. It was slower paced and more episodic than modern science fiction, with fairly two dimensional characters, but what a soaring, galaxy spanning imagination! It is for this that I really want to read the next book.
- 9. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chalmers (average rating 4.17) – this has come highly recommended by friends and been described as kitchen sink sci-fi, all about the little things aboard a starship, the relationships and struggles of the passengers and crew. It’s supposed to be a feelgood novel, which sounds good to me.
- 10. The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell (average rating 4.17) – A first contact novel, where aliens are contacted by Jesuit priests, what a fascinating idea! This is a book about deep thinking about humanity’s place in the universe and what is important in a life. This sounds just like my cup of tea.
So that’s the ten books from my Goodreads TBR list. I’ve got a couple that aren’t yet on my TBR list, but I really want to read soon. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal is set in a slightly alternate 1950s (there’s a meteorite strike which causes the human race to up its development of space technology), and is the first in the Lady Astronaut series, about a woman who wants to be an astronaut. Although it is a slightly varying 20th century, a woman in this 1950s still faces the struggles she’d have faced in our 1950s. Also want to start reading some Robert Heinlein. There’s various starting points to Heinlein, but I’m thinking about the first book in the Lazarus Long series, Methuselah’s Children or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which is oft regarded as one of his best books.
Anyway, I leave it there for now, I could go on forever…