First, in order, books you can expect to hear more about in the coming weeks:
The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler (Villard, 2007). I'm not a fan of feminist philosophy and gender studies, but my girlfriend is, and she wanted me to read this. I actually enjoyed the last book she asked me to read, so I'm going to keep an open mind. I'm getting her back by making her read The Hobbit.)
- Captive of Gor, by John Norman (Ballantine, 1972 -- this is the edition I have; it has since been reprinted by e-reads.com). The seventh in Norman's pulpy Chronicles of Counter-Earth science fiction series.
The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books, 2010). His Mistborn trilogy was some of the flat-out, hands down best fantasy that I've ever read, and yes, if you're reading this blog and you haven't read them yet, you owe it to yourself to do so. I will be very interested to see what he does with this, the first book in his proposed fantasy epic.
- The Shadowmarch series, by Tad Williams (DAW, 2004-2010). I've read the first two books in the series, but it's been years; I intend to start the series from the beginning again.
And then, slightly less orderly ...
At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson (Doubleday, 2010). I saw Bryson on The Colbert Report and thought the book sounded good; a friend of mine recommended a few of his other books.
- A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah E. Harkness (Viking, 2011). I think I read about this in the local paper.
- The Skewed Throne, by Joshua Palmatier (DAW, 2006).
- The Iron Thorn, by Caitlin Kittredge (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2011). The past decade or so has seen some surprisingly good young adult fantasy, so I'm not thrown off by that label; let the material stand or fall for itself, I say. I was directed to this by Cherie Priest's Twitter (she retweeted it from someone else).
The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss (DAW, to be released March 1, 2011). The second book of Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles, the first volume of which has had its praises sung widely. I will say that I actually teared up during one scene in The Name of the Wind (DAW, 2007) -- another that you absolutely owe yourself to read if you haven't already.
- The Big Country, by Donald Hamilton (Dell, 1958). The source material for the fantastic film, which I also recommend for stellar performances from Gregory Peck and Burl Ives, and one of the best fight scenes ever choreographed (between Peck and Charleton Heston).
- The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade Books, 2010).
- Naamah's Blessing, by Jacqueline Carey (Grand Central Publishing, to be released June 29, 2011). The conclusion to the latest trilogy by one of my favorite authors.
- The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, by Stephen Hunt (Tor Books, 2009). The sequel to Hunt's The Court of the Air (Tor Books, 2008), a strange, captivating book.
- Vamped, by David Sosnowski (Free Press, 2004).
- Clementine, by Cherie Priest (Subterranean, 2010). The other book in Priest's Clockwork Century series, about which I've previously raved. Luckily, my library has a copy of this one.
- Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence (Ace, to be released August 2, 2011).
- The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit, 2011). Abercrombie writes some really great, gritty, grisly fantasy with flawed heroes and unhappy (realistic) endings, so much that reading his work is akin to emotional masochism. Still, like an addiction, you just keep coming back because you can't resist ...
- The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, by Mark Hodder (Pyr, 2010).
- The Son of Neptune, by Rick Riordan (Hyperion, to be published October 11, 2011). Again, the young adult label doesn't bother me; Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (Hyperion, 2005-2010) was top-notch, whether you're a young reader or old, and The Lost Hero (Hyperion, 2010) kept up the mantle of quality I've come to expect from this author.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit, 2010). Ranting Dragon's review of this made it actually sound good (which was, in fact, the whole point of the review).
- I, Claudius, by Robert Graves (Arthur Barker, 1934). This was recommended to me by a friend, who loved it, after I'd watched Caligula (1979 -- one of Malcolm McDowell's best performances).
- No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy (Knopf, 2005). The source material for the Coen Bro's. Oscar-winning existential western; I'm told that the book is even better. I've thought before about reading The Road (Knopf, 2006), which I'm also led to understand is excellent (and in fact once nearly bought it on the strength of its description, knowing nothing more about it), but I've never felt the need to be that depressed.
Whew! So, that ought to get me through to about July. You can expect reviews of some, if not most, of the unnumbered books, too, assuming they make an impact.
If you've got other recommendations, send them my way! Leave a comment here, hit me up on Twitter, or send me an email.