2021 Reading Challenge – Part 2

You can only read a book for the first time once. In some ways that is tragic but it’s part of the magic of storytelling. I recently asked the question on social media:

I have always been an avid reader, ever since I was little and would read all the Star Wars and Star Trek books I could get my hands on. I would happily go back to them and lose myself in those stories. It was a form of escapism but it did get me into the habit of reading. There are many books I’ve enjoyed, and even narrowing down my favourites to a top-ten list would be very difficult. However, when I think about books I would love to experience again for the first time there is only one contender; The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell.

These books were written between 1995 and 1997 and tell the story of Arthur; the man who united the Britons agains the Saxon invaders. The trilogy borrows from traditional Arthurian mythology but Cornwell’s telling is grounded in realism. This is less knights in shining armour, and more spearmen in chainmail, with blood, mud and guts. The story is possibly the most emotional one I’ve read and even now, over two decades later the story moves me and the ending leaves me drained. Everyone I know who has read these books agrees that they are simply fantastic. I enjoy them each time I read them, but I would love so much to be able to experience them again for the first time. I’m surprised that no one has taken the plunge and adapted these books for television, especially seeing as though Cornwell’s pseudo-sequel series The Last Kingdom has been well received on Netflix. My biggest fear would be that a series was made and it bombed because it was watered down or produced on the cheap.

Back to my question though… I was surprised at some of the answers because several people referenced the same series of books by Robin Hobb. I have never heard of this author or their Assassin’s Apprentice trilogy. I have looked up the books and unfortunately it does not sound like my sort of thing. Here is a selection of the replies I received:

I also had someone suggest Twilight on Twitter, but I treated that suggestion with all the contempt it deserved (sorry RK).

I’m now up to 32 completed books in 2021, with book 33 almost completed. I am currently reading Goldilocks by Laura Lam which is a science-fiction story set in the near future which looks at a crewed mission to another star system. I’m enjoying the book and it’s keeping me guessing which is a good sign. I have recently finished Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates which was a real eye-opening experience. There are certain terms that I’ve seen and heard, such as Incel, without knowing what they meant. This book certainly cleared up any misunderstandings I might have had.

In many ways, reading this book reminds me of the arguments that were had over the Black Lives Matter movement. Some people claimed that, by proclaiming Black Lives Matter, you are suggesting they matter more than other lives. This resulted in the bizarre response many people responded with, which was that All Lives Matter. The thing is, pointing out that Black Lives Matter does not automatically mean other lives do not matter. We have to point out that Black Lives Matter because for too long people have acted as if they don’t. It’s the same sort of principle with equal rights for women. No one is suggesting that male rights should suddenly be reduced below those of women. Instead, we need to aim for a society where all people have equal rights and opportunities. The realist in me knows that will probably never happen because people are tribal by nature. It does not mean we should stop fighting for it though.

One thing that Laura Bates taught me was just how prevalent misogyny is. There are whole communities online that are based around the hatred of women, and it’s as frightening as it is absurd. Over the last few years I have become increasingly aware of the idea of societal privilege. There is white privilege, socio-economic privilege, and male privilege in addition to many others. As a white male from a working class background who now finds himself firmly in the middle class, I have often been blind to the automatic privileges I have. In response to this, I have been trying to educate myself outside my echo chamber. Part of that has been the commitment to try and read more books by female authors. My numbers are not as equal as I would like between male and female authors but I think I am moving in the right direction. Here is my up to date progress:

2021

  1. Leap of Destiny: Not Alone Series – Book 5 by Craig Falconer (audible).*****
  2. Revelations: Not Alone Series – Book 6 by Craig Falconer (audible).*****
  3. A Promised Land by Barack Obama (audible).*****
  4. Elephants on Acid by Alex Boese (audible).**
  5. Electrified Sheep by Alex Boese (audible).**
  6. Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse (audible).**
  7. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek (audible).***
  8. The Remaining: Book 1 of The Remaining Series by DJ Molles (audible).*
  9. The Asshole Survival Guide by Robert I. Sutton (audible).***
  10. The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman (audible).***
  11. My Sh*t Therapist by Michelle Thomas (audible).*****
  12. The List by Siobhan Vivian (audible).*
  13. Of Ants and Dinosaurs by Cixin Liu (audible).*****
  14. The Supernova Era by Cixin Liu (audible).***
  15. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (audible).****
  16. A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger (audible).***
  17. Paranormality by Richard Wiseman (audible).****
  18. The Lying Room by Nicci French (book).****
  19. The Pig That Wants to be Eaten by Julian Baggini (audible).***
  20. Rip It Up by Richard Wiseman (audible).***
  21. What If? by Randall Munroe (book).*****
  22. Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov (audible).**
  23. The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney (book).**
  24. Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferris (audible).***
  25. The Awakening: Not Alone Series – Book 7 by Craig Falconer (audible).****
  26. Weaponised Lies by Daniel Leviton (book).****
  27. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (book).*****
  28. Hidden Wonder: Not Alone Series – Book 8 by Craig Falconer (audible).*****
  29. Endgame: Not Alone Series – Book 9 by Craig Falconer (audible).*****
  30. The Chain by Adrian McKinty (book).****
  31. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel (book).**
  32. Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates (audible).****

And below are a few graphs and charts….

My last update had a split of 14.8% to 85.2%, so I’m slowly moving towards a more equal split of male to female authors.

Like with male and female author statistics, this is starting to balance out as well. In my last update almost 60% of my books this year had been non-fiction.

The trend towards equality continues here with my last update showing am 18.5% to 81.5% split.

I will probably post another update on my reading progress once I get to 40 books. Until then, be sure to check out my latest FIRE related blog.

Thanks for reading and if you like my content, please remember to Buy Me A Coffee.

5 thoughts on “2021 Reading Challenge – Part 2

  1. I’ve read some of Robin Hobb’s books – enjoyed them but they’re probably not ones I would read again. I’m partway through various series so it’s hard for me to pin point one but I’d probably say Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ series. A 14-book series, Jordan died when he was working on book 12 and fellow fantasy author Brandon Sanderson completed the series using Jordan’s notes. I was on book 9 at the time of Jordan’s death so was glad that the series would be completed. However, years passed as I read other things and when I picked up book 10, I realised that I had forgotten so much from the previous 9 that I started from the beginning and then worked my way through to book 14 – this took me several years (reading other stuff in between) and I have to say by the end of it, I was genuinely sad that it was all over that I would not be reading about those characters again.

    Like Hobb, probably not your cup of tea either.

    George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones books – have re-read them several times but the series is incomplete so it doesn’t count!

    On the sci-fi side, I can only think of the Takeshi Kovacs novels (Richard K Morgan) and Peter F Hamilton’s The Commonwealth Saga.

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    1. The Game of Thrones books were a bit hit and miss, I thought. Also, I don’t think we will ever see the series finished based on how much the show sucked towards the end.

      I’m really digging sci-fi at the moment, but I’m talking about hard sci-fi and not space opera. Have you tried The Expanse?

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      1. The GoT show sucked towards the end because they ran of books so made up their own story/ending, which was inconsistent with what had been in the books. I just hope Martin lives long enough to complete the series…

        The Expanse is on my to-read list, I have the first 4 books (actual paperbacks) and hope to get started at some point this year.

        My forays into hard sci-fi in the past have been hit and miss, with some of it going well over my head in terms of complexity (as in too complex for me to enjoy), which might be why I prefer space opera as this tends to be a little easier on the brain!

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      2. I just can’t see him finishing the series, based on how long he leaves between books. I question whether the motivation is there due to how the last couple of seasons were received.

        I can’t remember if I’ve already mentioned them, but the Three Body Problem trilogy by Cixin Liu is possibly the best sci-fi I’ve read. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

        Are you on social media btw? Be good to connect on a forum that’s a little easier to use.

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