Jumpdrives & Cantrips

Pile o’ Shame

Aidan at A Dribble of Ink came up with the brilliant idea of airing his Pile o’ Shame: books that perpetually get stuck on the to-be-read pile. I’ve actually been actively working to rectify my pile o’ shame over the past few years by purposefully seeking out some of the classics in science fiction and fantasy, but it never seems to be enough. And I wonder too if a good pile o’ shame keeps us readers on our toes, so to speak… Or maybe it just engenders embarrassment *sigh*

Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyThat’s right–I haven’t read a single thing by one of the most popular comic SF writers EVAR. Despite the sheer amount of people who recommend The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to me, I just haven’t found any motivation to read it. Even though my friends have their own version of the pan-galactic gargleblaster (or some such drink that apparently is in the books), even though my husband wanted to drag me to the movie, and even though several people have GIVEN me their copies at various points in time. Partly, I am a contrary person at heart and the more I’m pushed, the less likely I am to actually do anything. But it doesn’t change the fact that Adams’ book has been hugely influential and is apparently quite good. Not to mention the radio broadcasts, films, etc. etc.

George R. R. Martin

A Game of ThronesLong ago, before these books really got popular, I read A Game of Thrones and told my friends who liked Robert Jordan (I am probably one of the few adamant not-fans of Jordan) to give up the ghost and switch series. Sadly, after nearly three years of waiting for the next book, I lost interest and never returned to read the rest of the series even though I really liked the first book. And to be honest, I’m a little scared to return to the series because I don’t want to go back and think, “Man that was not as good as I remembered it being!”

Robert Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange LandI know. You really don’t need to say anything. It’s unneeded, and I’m not sure how this happened. One of the biggest all time writers in science fiction, and I haven’t read a whit of his works. Not even one. Stranger in a Strange Land has been in the pile for over 3 years, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is right beside it, alongside Starship Troopers. One of the freakin’ grandfathers of SF and his books sit around gathering dust on my pile. Oh well…

China Miéville

Un Lun DunEvery single time I read summaries of this guy’s novels, they sound so darned good. But for some reason I just can’t quite get around to reading any of his books. A friend of mine even lent me King Rat, which is currently sitting in the middle of my hallway floor. I suspect, wily New Weird Novel that it is, it’s following me until I give in and curl up to devour it. Never have I known a book to be so forward about this whole process. Truly though, I know how good Miéville is supposed to be, but…

All I can do really is shrug my shoulders and say, “It’s on the pile.”

Thus, The Pile has been partly aired (they always grow) and hopefully I will actually get into gear to read some of these poor ignored books. I find it interesting to see that these authors are all male… Though I’m quite aware I tend to read women more often than men in general for some unknown reason.

In any case, spur me on if you want reviews of these up here!


8 Comments so far
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Of that list I have only read two. Stranger in a Strange Land was interesting, it seemed to me almost like two related but separate books though and I remember liking the first half better. My cell bio prof used to use the word ‘grok’ all the time… it would be a great word if more than the SF fans understood it.

As for Douglas Adams… I read it. It was amusing, but I’m not awestruck and amazed by it the way everyone seems to be. I think it so much better if read as an adolescent 😉 (a tribute in photos for the 42nd “Iron Photographer challenge” hosted by Utata… my own included)

Comment by jenn

my thoughts on your pile-o-shame…here goes:)

First off, I’m afraid to do this article myself because my list would not stop at 4 authors or works…not even 10…or 20. *blush* But to comment on your pick:

I haven’t read Douglas Adams and don’t intend to…not in the near future that is. I hear a lot good things bout Hitchikers Guide but english humoUr in the vein of Monthy Python is really offseting for me. I just don’t dig it. Ain’t a fan of Pratchett either *rolleyes*

George Martin is the man, I’ve re read every single book in the series a year ago and still love it after all these years. I hope I’ve calmed your fear a bit but…it really is that good 🙂

Heinelen…haven’t read him. But the list of classics is sooo damn long and new authors/works are churning out so quickly that I don’t find enough time to go retro. I’ve read Le Guin (Lathe of Heaven and Left Hand of Darkness) and Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War lately and enjoyed the hell out of them. If you haven’t read The Left Hand of Darkness i recommend it highly…even above Heinelen even if I haven’t read anything by him…until now.

China Mieville…I’m sorry to say but all the hype didn’t come through for me. I was severely disappointed by Perdido Street Station and don’t intend to read anything else written by him for some time, if ever.

Comment by uroš

Jenn–for some reason couldn’t seem to get that series of photos to load, but I browsed through some others that looked intriguing. Grok is a nice word, I agree (I somehow know it without being exposed to the book). And I suspect I’d be a little underwhelmed by Adams as well… But sometimes it’s worth it to make sure you’re not missing out on something grand, I suppose 🙂

Uros–Honestly, my pile is much larger. I barely dented it; these are just the most embarrassing books! I find sometimes that it’s more important to read some of the older works just because other authors riff off of them at times, and I like knowing that. I’ve read The Left Hand of Darkness, and while it was interesting, I didn’t actually find it a very palatable book and it bored me for stretches of time to be honest. But still a worthwhile read. Still not decided if I’ll go back to GRRM, but we’ll see 😉


Comment by admin

I definitely recommend going back to A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve read the series twice, and the second time was even better than the first.

In my opinion, the best epic fantasy series out there. A Storm of Swords Part 1 is possibly the best epic fantasy novel ever written.

Comment by James

You know… not to be contrary, but so many people say the same thing that it just kind of puts me off a little. Though people were right about Harry Potter, so I should probably just buckle down and read it! Which other epic fantasies do you like, James?


Comment by admin

Hi Sara,
I know what you mean about being put off by something everyone insists is fantastic. I took me years to finally break down and read Harry Potter and after I wondered why I was being so stubborn about it. As to A Song of Ice and Fire, I read it and I recommend it as very entertaining, but not awesome or mind blowing… It bugs me when people go on and on about it, makes me wonder what the hell they’ve been reading that they think this is the pinnacle of fantasy!

Comment by Lynette

Hey Lynette:

Yeah… I suspect I just don’t get blown away easily by much of anything. Probably a function of personal disposition combined with experience as an ER nurse 😉

I guess one man’s pinnacle is another man’s pulp!

Unfortunately I picked HP up several days before 2 major exams and then wondered why I was so silly to start a great new series (at that time of 4 books) right before the tests! On the bright side, I got all of the existing HP read plus the selected works of Chaucer I needed to pass *grin*


Comment by admin

Hello my friends 🙂

Comment by UnsowsBog

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