I think everyone who loves books has an inaugural series in their background that opened their eyes to a wider world of reading possibilities. For me, that series was Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. If you want to read a quick history of Lloyd Alexander, check out this post. It's nicely done.
I've had this series on my re-read list for a long time now. At one point, I owned all five books in the series; somewhere between the age of 10 (when the editions I own were published and presumably about when I first read them) and 40 (my current age), 2 of those books were lost. I still have books 3, 4, 5, and remedied the missing novels with a couple of quick purchases from Amazon's used book section.
I don't know if I'll post formal reviews of each book; I've slowed my reviewing so I can focus on other things. But I might post some thoughts once I'm done with the series. The difficult thing about re-reading such a formative work is that my expectations are high. As a 10 year old, I'm sure I tore through them. I was always interested in fantasy; a series of this magnitude in an easily digestible form probably kept me up until the early hours of the morning. But will the Prydain Chronicles hold up to the critical eye of the 40 year old curmudgeon I've become? I'll let you know.
Last year, I decided to take LibraryThing's challenge of reading 50 books. I got pretty close, but didn't quite make it all the way. I think I was mostly on track until about the last three months of the year when I started getting a lot of consulting work. Still, I did read 43 books, which I think was a lot more than I had read in previous years. That in itself makes this exercise a win for me. I think I settled into a nice rhythm, and started to recognize that when my reading slowed it wasn't always because I was busy doing other things. Sometimes the book just wasn't that good, and reading it was bringing me down rather than exciting me. Those times I stopped reading and moved on to the next book.
Looking at the complete list of books I read in 2010, all but one were fantasy. The loner in the group was Marley & Me by John Grogan, which I highly recommend, especially if you're a dog lover like I am. This was actually the first book I ever bought after having seen the movie of the same name starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. The movie was surprisingly good, and the book was even better. We have two dogs, one which is beginning to get up there in years; watching the movie and reading the book gave me a sneak preview of sorts concerning what to expect once 'my girl' finally does go to doggie heaven.
Other notable books included novels in the Overworld series by Jack Vance, The Gunslinger by Stephen King (which I thought was good but gave up on the series after reading the second book), a lot of the Tor.com free eBooks (which were mostly forgettable), as well as a number of books by Dave Duncan, all of which were excellent.
So, what's next?
First off, I'm dropping LibraryThing. I was trying to maintain accounts with both LibraryThing and GoodReads, but since the latter is by far the better site and I'm starting to build a book list as well reading relationships there, I'm 100% GoodReads now. Stop by and add me as contact if you want.
As for reading, I'm again going to engage in a reading challenge for 2011, but with a more modest goal of 35 books. I'll track this through GoodReads on my 2011 Reading Challenge page. I've got 3 books down already, with more to follow.
Last, I'm going to scale my book reviews down a bit for this year. I wrote a lot of reviews last year, so many that they were becoming a major consumer of my time. So, this year expect a lot less reviews. I'd entertained thoughts of starting my own f/sf review web site, but it's hard to add anything else to my workload right now.
This segues into where that time is going to get reallocated, and that is towards the sale and marketing of my two novels as well as what is looking more and more like a sequel to The Five Elements. More on that in another post.
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Online site BubbleCow provides writing advice, tips, and professional copyediting services. As an end-of-year thank you to their readers, they're offering free advertising on their site for any book, indie or otherwise.
The ad is strictly text, so there's not much work for anyone who wants to take advantage of this. Just add the text you want displayed along with a web address where people can learn more about your book, and you're done.
The ad itself is a single-line dropdown at the top of their site which will appear on each page visited for 1 day. They're taking as many books as people want to list and will run the ads until no more books remain.
You can follow BubbleCow on Twitter.
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Although we're not quite done with 2010, I'm starting to wind down my attempt at reading 50 books. I'm about halfway through my current read, and then I might be able to finish one more book after that before 2011 is upon us.
Looking back, here's a list of some of my favorite reads over the past year.
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There are many rules for quantifying when one should stop reading a book if one is finding said book not so appealing. There's the 100 page rule, the 150 page rule, the 33% rule, and, last but not least, the Page 99 Test.
There's a new site just going into beta that wants to showcase the last of those rules. It's called Page99Test.com.
In the words of the sites' creators:
People in bookstores often read page 99 of a book to get a taste for the writing - to determine if they'd buy the book.
Same goes here. Writers upload page 99 of their manuscript, and you get to read & rate it. Tell writers if (based on reading page 99) you'd buy their book.
You can sign up for alerts via email regarding the roll out of the beta, and, in fact, I received an email this morning notifying me that they will be selecting 100 private beta users from amongst the people who have signed up for alerts to get things started.
I've done the Page 99 Test on my own writing before. The idea of putting a Page 99 out for all to see and rate, while very cool, can also be a bit daunting for some. It's that fear of rejection we all have to varying degrees. But we as writers have to get our writing in front of objective audiences at some point. This is a bit narrow of a focus (only highlighting one page), but it serves the same purpose. I'm eager to get my own page 99's up, and to see what others post.