Everyone’s got one.
That secret pile of novels, so very well regarded by the literary world, sitting in a dark corner of their house, sadly neglected despite assurances by so many others that “you’ve got to read them!” It’s a secret Pile ‘o Shame that haunts readers, always calling out longingly to be conquered but always growing bigger.
There’re simply too many novels out there (even if you only count the ones worth reading) for anyone to tackle all of them, and so the pile grows bigger. It’s so shameful that many readers hide it, boastfully playing on Internet message boards and blogs, pretending they’ve read them, or at the very least have given them a meaningful glance – catch them in their lie and they’re quick to exit the conversation.
I thought it would be fun to come out of the closet with my Pile o’ Shame every once in a while, crucifying myself before the masses by laying bare the gaps in my knowledge of the genre. I’ll explain a little of why I haven’t read them before – whether it’s ignorance, taste, fear or otherwise – all in hopes that someone will come along and convince me exactly why a particular novel or series deserves to be the next wiped off my Pile o’ Shame.
So, let’s get this started.
The Pile – Round One
Richard Morganâ€™s Whole Damn Library
Yeah, I know, eh? Iâ€™ve gone on at length about my frothing desire for Morganâ€™s upcoming Fantasy novel, The Steel Remains, and yet Iâ€™ve never read anything by the man. A lot of the hype, at least for me, was fueled by the early reviews/previews from Joe Abercrombie and The Genre Files, both of whom had nothing but glowing words for the novel.
My wheelhouse, as made evident by A Dribble of Ink, is Fantasy, and so that, as silly as it may be, is probably the basic reason behind the lack of Richard Morgan in my life. Everything Iâ€™ve heard about his novels seems right up my alley: gritty and violent, a charismatic protagonist, and eerily realistic future setting.
This is probably the series Iâ€™m most likely to tackle in the near future. Iâ€™ve got Altered Carbon sitting beside my bed and it will likely be read just as soon as Iâ€™m done with Greg Keyes’ The Born Queen, if not before.
The Prince of Nothing by R. Scott Bakker
Iâ€™ll admit that this one hasnâ€™t been started merely out of fear. It just looks so dense, obtuse and difficult. Iâ€™ve got the three trade paperbacks sitting on my bookshelf, looking all pretty and menacing, and Iâ€™ve just never been able to work up the courage to jump in.
This is partly due to the fact that I read for enjoyment and Bakkerâ€™s works just seem like so much work. I donâ€™t begrudge people who enjoy this, in fact a little part of me envies them, but I tend towards works that donâ€™t force me to fight the prose and the story to enjoy them. That all being said, I often find works like that very rewarding when I do finish them, and thatâ€™s why Bakker has stayed on my Pile â€˜o Shame and not just been relegated to the never-gonna-be-read closet.
Iâ€™m expecting to get a review copy of Neuropath sometime soon and that, along with my upcoming interview with Bakker, will hopefully get the ball rolling and help me become a confident enough reader to pick up Prince of Nothing.
The Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney
Now here’s a series that I can explain without much shame. I’ve been aware of Kearney’s work for a couple of years now and have tried hard to lay my hands on copies of the novels. I’d scour every used bookstore I came across and slowly managed to acquire a few of the five novels.
Then I caught wind of the upcoming Omnibus…
Now the plan’s to read the Omnibus the second it arrives on store shelves. Like Morgan’s novels, everything I hear about The Monarchies of God leads me to believe that it will be the exact type of Fantasy I’ve grown to love so much over the years. Kearney’s upcoming novel, The Ten Thousand , being released this fall by Solaris, also sounds interesting and I’ll hopefully be able to get my hands on that.
Reading Kearney has been a long time coming for me, something always seemed to get in the way, but I’m hoping that once I get to it, I won’t have regrets.
Alright, so there you go, three series I’m mightily ashamed to admit never to reading. It stretches much farther, and I’ll probably return with another article like this in the future; but, for the meantime, you can berate me, tell me why I’m a fool for missing out, or why I continue to stay far away. While you’re at it, why notlet me know what happens to be in your Pile ‘o Shame.