50 Book Challenge: 1 – 5

Maybe you’re familiar with this one?  You basically challenge yourself to read 50 books in one calendar year.  I’ve decided to retroactively take on this challenge for 2010 because I’m fairly close to where you need to be in the year in terms of books read.

I have finished 18 books (it’s week 20 of the year) and gotten at least halfway through 4 more, and started 2 more than that.  So, if I finished all of that in the next 2 weeks (possible) I’d be at 24 and ahead of the game!  Plus, it means I get to keep lists, which I like to do.  And I’ve got an absurd number of books waiting to be read (Over 50).

If I got through all the Terry Pratchett audiobooks, which I started in February and have gotten through 12, I’d be at 36 for the year.  Frustrating that I have so many books on my hand and not the time to read them!  I think I’ll do updates with every five books and a brief review or thoughts, approximately in order of when I finished them.

1. A Religious Orgy in Tennessee – H.L. Mencken

I ordered this while following the Prop 8 trial because, basically, no one is a snarky about fundamentalists as H.L. Mencken and the parallels between Prop 8 and teaching creationism in school seemed obvious to me.  It was both uplifting and wholly depressing.  H.L. Mencken reads to me a lot like Hunter S. Thompson.

2. The Scopes Monkey Trial Transcript

PDF is not the best delivery mechanism for a book when you don’t have an e-reader.  I mean, I’m not sure if it’s the best if you do have an e-reader, but I’m guessing it’s better.  Anyway, I was heavy into transcripts because I was reading the daily transcripts of Prop 8.

3. The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Long ago I was given Wyrd Sisters from this series by my friend Nicol.  I couldn’t get through it for any number of reasons (cramped typeface, world I was unfamiliar with).  After I saw a couple of the BBC adaptations of Terry Pratchett stories and therefore had a Rincewind in my head that was solid, I decided to listen to the audiobooks, especially since Good Omens is a fantastic book.  Colour of Magic was great.

4. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Second in the Discworld series, direct sequel to the previous one.  Good as well.

5. Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett, read by Celia Imrie

Third in the Discworld series and by far my favorite of them all.  This introduces Granny Weatherwax, who is my favorite Pratchett character, followed closely by Death.  Pratchett’s greatest skill as a writer, in my opinion, is that none of his characters are particularly attractive and they all have terrible flaws, but you like them and they never get over their flaws.  People don’t become pretty, or overcome their inherent selfishness or cowardice, they’re just regular people.

About ashleyfmiller

I write, give occasional speeches, and am currently getting my PhD in Mass Communications from South Carolina. Before going back to school, I worked in Los Angeles in reality tv, web series, and film.

Posted on May 18, 2010, in 50 books and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. If you read the Scopes transcript, also read http://www.themonkeytrial.com to see how Hollywood treats history.

  2. Dear Ashley:
    I’ve been keeping track of the books I’ve read since I started college near the end of the 1970s. I almost always break 50 books in a given year. One year (1980) I read 101 books.

    HOWEVER! Am I misreading you or are you counting listening to an audio book as actually reading the book? Sorry! Listening to a book DOES NOT count as reading a book. On this point, I must remain firm.

    • ashleyfmiller

      Why doesn’t listening to a book count?

      • 1. Listening to a story and reading a story are clearly two different things. When an author writes a story, he or she intends for it to be read. Any other version of the story is secondary, an interpretation

        2. The Pratchett books you listed were read by Tony Robinson, Ceia Imrie and Nigel Planer. They are all popular actors in England. Working in the film industry you know that they brought their own interpretation to the work. This put someone between you and the author. When reading, it’s just you and the author.

        3. You don’t indicate for certain, but usually when popular actors read a book on tape, they read an abridged version. Someone went through the book and took out bits. How did they decide which bits to take out? They made a decision based on their understanding of the story and whatever practical limitations they had (such as time). This means yet ANOTHER person made an interpretation of the book before the actors even got to it. You are even further away from what the author intended.

        4. Finally, listening is simply not reading. It takes much less effort.

        I listen to books on tape, but only of books I’ve already read, usually to GET the interpretation of the reader. In the end, however, this is me. You can of course count them if you wish.

      • ashleyfmiller

        Honestly, I think you’re just being pretentious. Some authors prefer the audiobook versions of their work to the written versions, some authors read their own work in audiobooks. There are many things that impact the subjective experience of a book, different print versions or editions of a book are different do they suddenly count less? Is the editor, the cover artist, the typeface, or the page thickness not between me and the author already? Does it count less if I read it on a screen because I’m not experiencing the book itself?

        If someone can only access books through audiobooks, does this make them any less exposed to the thoughts contained therein?

        Listening takes far more effort and I find it much more rewarding, I have to spend more time with the material. If it takes me an hour to read, it takes 3 hours to listen to. Having read the Harry Potter books many times and listened to them recently on audiobook, I would probably never reread them because the pace of the audiobook let me really imagine the characters and events fully. Anyway, effort is another subjective thing and you claim to know how much effort it takes any other person to do something.

        I’m out to experience the content of the books in the best way for me, that’s always going to be different for every person. I’ve got nothing to prove in the delivery mechanism. They’re unabridged books told the way the author wanted them to be, who are you to claim that that experience is worth less?

  3. John Sherman

    This discussion is verging on the acrimonious and that was not my intention. For that I am sorry. The question of which is best, reading or listening, is a matter of opinion and arguing about opinion rarely leads to anything good, in my experience. To each his or her own.
    However, what is not an opinion is that reading and listening are two different things. Every dictionary in the country will back me up on that. Saying you read a book when you listened to it is simply not correct.

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