Monday, July 19, 2010

The To Read Shelf

Those of you who know me, or have been reading this blog, know that I read a lot of books. And by a lot I mean upward of 60 per year, on average. So my "To Read Shelf" is usually fairly well stocked.

This morning it's 15 titles deep, ranging from Don Quixote by Cervantes to The Host by Stephanie Meyer. In between there are three Garrison Keillor titles for a little moderation and the always classic The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas that I've been reading for the better part of a year. Why a year, you ask? I'm over five hundred pages into that novel and I'm only a third of the way through. It's not light reading.

In the digital realm I have about eight titles on my Kindle waiting for my perusal. The great thing about the Kindle is that all of these cost less than I could get them in the store and some of them even come free. Just last night I downloaded Agatha Christie's Secret Adversary free of charge. It's been a long time since I read anything by the Dame of Mysteries, but I'll be looking forward to that one.

So all told, my To Read Shelf is about 23 deep. With the exception of a couple of fluff fantasy pieces that I'm debating over whether or not I'll even keep them, this is all that I haven't read in my personal library. Not that the To Read Shelf is in my library. No, it's the night stand beside my bed, piled high with adventures I haven't had yet. I'm not sure Bethany's thrilled about having them piled there, but that's OK. It's on my side of the bed.

Just last night, when I couldn't sleep, I picked up The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. These are the authors who combined to write Relic, which was the first book that ever deeply creeped my out. The movie they made from the book was awful, but the book is chilling. I didn't go outside after dark for weeks. And I read it when I was a senior in high school.

This novel has set on my shelf for some time. I picked it up for a paltry few cents at a library book sale somewhere. My interests changed from mysteries to other adventure so its gathered dust on my shelf for a while. Last year when I trimmed the library down a bit I debated on getting rid of it, but I decided against it. You see, this book comes to my attention with two very solid recommendations from Devan and Patrick.

I don't know a great deal of people who read like I do. Devan, Patrick and Dick do and we constantly are in search of new authors and new titles. We know each other well enough to take the recommendations we pass out seriously. Dick was who first got me reading the works of David Liss. I've only doubted Patrick and Devan once apiece and both times I was proven wrong.

Patrick introduced Devan and I both to the Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. The first book, The Eye of The World isn't an easy read the first time through. However, it is the gateway to an amazing series and if you can survive the first 400 pages or so, the last 150-200 pay off in a major way. I read part of that book and set it aside, scoffing. When I finally finished it, I had to admit Patrick's review was pretty dead on and 13 books later I'm glad that I did.

I doubted Devan when he handed me a copy of John Steakley's Armor and told me, at that time, it was one of the best books he'd read. His copy was old, something from the '70s or early '80s and looked like a literary knock off of Robert Heinlen's amazing Starship Troopers. I read the first 20 pages and didn't think it was anything more than fluff. He bet me that if I could read it and honestly tell him that I didn't like it, he'd buy me another book. If I liked it, I owed him one. Turned out that it was a bet I didn't mind losing at all. It is definitely one of my favorite books.

So when Patrick called from the beach last week and wanted to know what order to read the Pendergast novels in, I looked it up for him and discovered that I'd read the first two, Relic and Reliquary and had the third, Cabinet, sitting on my shelf. I mentioned in passing that I hadn't read it yet.

"Oooh, that one's good. I can't believe you haven't read it yet," he said. And then I remembered that Devan had said much the same the last evening he was at the house before he left for duty in Iraq.

So as I finished the last two Patrick O'Brian novels in my possession, I picked up Cabinet of Curiosities on the strong recommendation of two close friends whose literary opinions I hold in pretty high regard. So far, it hasn't disappointed and it looks like their record will remain untarnished.

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