Lately I'm being haunted by one of my old enemies, a bully who was hounded me since high school, always lurking over my shoulder, gaining strength while I'm relaxing. Yes, my greatest nemesis, TBR. The To Be Read pile.
I thought I had vanquished the TBR over the summer by reading most of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. Yesterday I finished the most recent book in the series, Small Favor, and looked at my night stand to see what was next. That's when I got hit with the panic attack. My night stand runneth over.
TBR is back. Here are the options piled before me, in no particular order:
Stranger in a Strange Land - I started this one once before but didn't get quite half-way through it. This is one of the books that I really want to read but keep putting off. It's one of the greatest books ever written. One of my favorite and oft misunderstood comic book characters is based on the book's central character. It's the favorite book of one of my closest friends. But I can never fit it into my reading schedule. Bottom Line - It's an immortal work. It'll always be available should that rainy day ever come.
Watchmen - One of the greatest comic book stories ever told. The movie is finally (after DECADES of waiting) coming out next month. I've wanted my own copy of this book for a long time and my wife gave it to last month for my birthday. Bottom Line - I've read it twice before and will again. Just not yet.
Elric The Stealer of Souls (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melnibone: Vol 1) - One of my favorite fantasy sagas, and in my opinion, one of the earliest dark fantasies. The forlorn story of Elric of Melnibone, the Sailor on the Seas of Fate, is presented in this first volume of an apparently ongoing collection of the older stories. The best part is that the back cover of the book promises an upcoming motion picture. Rock! Hopefully they'll get Hawkwind to do the soundtrack (see one of my previous posts). Bottom Line - Here again, I've read most of these stories before and will again. I started the first story last night, so I might continue with this one.
2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl - I picked up this book at the Green Valley Book Fair. It's a New Age treatise on the upcoming end of the world. According to the ancient Mayan calendar, the world will end on December 21, 2012. I've read the intro and first chapter, and skimmed a lot of the rest (the professional term is "gutting" the book). The author suggests that, rather than an apocolypse, the date will instead bring a cosmic paradigm shift resulting in a higher level of consciousness for mankind. That is, if we prepare ourselves by cleaning out our emotional and karmic closets, renewing our environment and opening ourselves to the Universe. He promises us telepathy!
Now trust me when I say that I've read my share of New Age books. I'm all over that stuff. If you want a good book about self actualization, read Dan Millman, James Redfield, or Wade Davis (one of my favorite books). Those guys write good stories and deliver a positive, emotional message. THIS book is more academic, by which I mean that it's obtuse and belongs in a college classroom. The book is 400 pages long and has a 5-page bibliography listing over 170 sources. With that much depth and documentation, I have no choice but to deduce that the author's theory is true. Even if it's not, he deserves a PhD solely from the amount of research and synthesis exercised here. Bottom Line - While I like the message and am very interested in really grokking his theory, the book is just too dense. The author needs to write a new version of it that is more obtainable. I don't plan to read this one.
Great Tales of Madness & the Macabre - Next on the shelf is a short story collection from 1990. Those who know me know that short horror fiction is my meat and potatoes. I think that short fiction is the best form for good horror. I picked this one up from the library because it contains stories I've never heard of, including ones by Robert Bloch, Jack London, and an early tale from Nancy Kress. Okay, truthfully, I picked it up just for the Robert Bloch story. Next to Old Man Lovecraft, Bloch is easily one of my top tier writers of weird horror. Bottom Line - I'll read at least some of the stories in this one. But it's over 500 pages of sweet, sweet horror. I don't know if I can read the whole thing before the other denizens of TBR haunt my dreams.
Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War - This is a series of trade paperbacks on loan from a friend. (These are published in hardback more frequently these days...does the industry have a new term for them?) This saga is the story of how other emotions suddenly have their own armies of ring bearers. Afterall, why should Willpower and Do-Goodery be the only characteristics to merit power rings? Hopefully my friend Rich won't mind that it might take me longer than usual to get through these five volumes. Bottom Line - I'm definitely reading these. I'm just not sure when. I mean, they're sitting right next to Watchmen. What am I supposed to do, huh?
Weird Tales magazine - I'm somehow two or three issues behind in reading my subscription to Weird Tales and its companion magazine, H.P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror. I'm not sure how this happened, but that's how TBR works to corrupt your sanity. Bottom Line - Of course I'll read these, but I'll have to work them in between other things.
So what's my next move against the big bully? Looking back over this list, I'm going with the book of short stories. I'll read the ones I'm most interested in, and probably a few more. After that, I think I'll dive into Watchmen; I mean, there's the movie coming up after all. I'll keep you posted, assuming I actually get around to more blogging. Hey hey, my my.
What I'm listening to: Lucinda Williams "Little Honey" - easily her best album since "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road."