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50 Book Pledge – Recommendations requested!

January 2, 2015

A Happy 2015 to all – hope you’ve had a pleasant January 1st.

How am I celebrating the new year?  As attempting only one challenge-within-a-given-timeframe just wasn’t ambitious enough, I’ve signed up for the 50 book pledge!

It’s exactly as it sounds, I’m committing to read at about a book per week pace for the next 365 days.

I normally try to be modest about my accomplishments but check out my progress so far:


What a journey it has been!

Here’s where I’d love some help: As I’m looking to read 50 books this year, what books would you recommend?

Any suggestions are much appreciated.  Music-related are always nice but I’d love to hear about any books you’ve found particularly page-turning.

And I practically insist any & all of you join the reading fun this year as well at

(my bookshelf can be found at

Thanks in advance!

From → Uncategorized

  1. I could recommend all 50 to you, if you like! 😉 But we need more deets – what sort of books do you like? Thrillers? Mysteries? Science fiction? Old classics? Graphic novels? Romance novels? Do they have to all be fiction, or can they be non-fiction as well?

    While we wait for parameters, I’ll give you five books to get you started. You may have read them already and that’s great! If not, you’re in for a treat (says me)!

    1) William Gibson – Neuromancer (science fiction)
    2) Leonard Cohen – Stranger Music (song lyrics/poetry)
    3) Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett – Good Omens (humour)
    4) Henry Rollins – Get In The Van (music history/biography)
    5) Grant Morrison & Dave McKean – Arkham Asylum (graphic novel)

    If your library system hasn’t got these, you’ll do well with them on your shelf anyway! I love all of these books to bits and pieces! If you want more suggestions, I’ve got tons more where that came from…

    Alas, I cannot join you on your quest. I have already joined Our HMO’s lovely lady’s To Be Read plan. The idea is to read 20 books you have in your house but not yet read BEFORE you allow yourself to buy any new books! I’m already on book three there… Also, I tend to read about 100 books in a year as it is, so I wouldn’t be able to limit myself to one book per week. 🙂

    Good luck, sir! This is a cool idea!

    • That To Be Read project sounds brilliant – kind of like kingcrimsonprog’s ‘get into what you paid for’ series. Makes perfect sense, read what you’ve got before any more come in the door!

      And Aaron, I’m afraid in terms of ‘deets’ – it’s frustratingly wide open, much like music, I’m a fan of a bit of everything. In terms of eligibility, I think anything goes – except kids books, otherwise I’d be well on my way already!

      Incidentally – as a fellow dad of 2 young kids – do you have ‘the book with no pictures’ by B.J. Novak? It’s a hit around here!

      Thanks for the 5 suggestions, nice mix – good luck with the TBR mission!

      • The TBR is a cool concept! And I could commit to 20 books easy – the problem is I made it tougher on myself in that I am still also reading books from the library and graphic novels (which I excluded for usually being quick reads and a quick way to reach 20!). So at any one time I have a minimum of three books on the go, each in a different room so no matter where I go, I can pick one up!

        Wide open specifications is cool – you’re free to go with your gut! You know, you could combine the 50books and the TBR… no saying the first 20 books/weeks of your project can’t be books in your house you have not yet read! That’s a cool idea, actually…

        Oh man, if I listed all the kids books we read in a year, the numbers would look inhuman. And then if we counted repetitions (Daddy, read that to me AGAIN!)… crazy big numbers. I don’t count kids books in my annual list of books read.

        I do not recall the book with no pictures. Wait, you mean the dude from the US version of the Office!? Haha wow I had no idea. I need to find this!

        No problem on the suggestions. Like I said, if you need more, lemme know! Or if you’re wondering which one by a certain author to read/start with, I might be able to help there too!

      • That’s Novak! It was released within the last year or so, really creative.

        And I like the idea of incorporating some of the books that have just been spending time on the bookshelf here – the project’s off to a good start, thanks again Aaron!

  2. Hey, here’s 5 more ‘cos now you’ve got me started thinking about it…

    6) Wayne Johnston – The Colony Of Unrequited Dreams (CDN historical fiction)
    7) Keith Richards – Life (biography/music)
    8) Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching (philosophy/religion)*
    9) Alan Moore – Watchmen (graphic novel)
    10) Irvine Welsh – Trainspotting (fiction)**

    OK OK I’ll stop now. Unless you want more. I can certainly tell you more!

    * get a translation by Stephen Mitchell or Thomas Cleary, if you can.

    ** do your best to not picture the movie of it in your mind, while you read! The movie is great, but I prefer my own mind’s Rents to having to picture Ewan McGregor’s face the whole time, ya know?…

    • Read Life last year, so I’m 1/10 so far!
      It was a good one, he inspired me to tune one of my guitars to open G (I didn’t take off a string like he does though) and I thought his vision of hell being like a permanent ‘time-out’ was unique!

    • Shout out for Trainspotting! And for James Kelman, who was a big influence on Welsh (I love his novels How Late It Was How Late & Kieron Smith, boy in particular).

  3. jprobichaud permalink

    Sounds like a fun challenge but far too much of a commitment for myself. You could start with Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments and continue on with the whole Barrytown trilogy….

    • Just checked them out, heard of, but haven’t read or seen any of them yet – thank you sir!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        No problem. They’re excellent books and quick reads. Perfect for when you want a break from all those classics I’m sure you’ve got lined up. If you need other recommendations, I’ve got plenty.

      • Excellent + quick are two words I tend to look for in a book, perfect!

  4. An ambitious undertaking, Geoff. Good luck!
    I guess I manage about twenty books a year, often (but not always) music related.

    Of the music books I’ve read in the last few years, there are two that stand out for ticking the three key boxes: well written, interesting, saying something new.

    Clinton Heylin – The Act You’ve Known For All These Years (2007) (contextualises the creation of Sgt P brilliantly)

    Rob Young – Electric Eden: unearthing Britain’s visionary music (2010) (brings British folk – and its far-reaching influence – alive; this one cost me a fortune in CDs!)

    • Those are 3 key boxes, I’d probably prioritize them in that order too.
      Those 2 books sound right up my alley – thanks for the warning about being prepared to spend after Electric Eden!

  5. My suggestion:
    Isaac Asimov – Foundation. Start there and if you’re up for it, then continue the series!

    • Just read the foundation synopsis, sounds intriguing!

      • Speaking purely of the first book (which is a quick read), I can say that not only was it a page-turner (I finished it in about 3 nights) but that I found it to be groundbreaking in its concepts. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s something so tasty about hard sci-fi that I just sink my teeth into.

    • Oooo yes. FOUNDATION!

  6. This is a cool idea. I don’t read much these days! Trying to fix that this year though…

    I’d recommend Michael Moorcock’s Mother London though. Read it a while back and was blown away. And i second the Electric Eden recommendation by Vinyl Connection.

    And… I’m biased but EvaOverload really knows her stuff. You should check out for the #TBR20!

    • Just checked the site – love that project idea!
      Thanks for the suggestions HMO, I keep forgetting you’re a Glaswegian – my wife & I worked there for a summer in the early 2000s, good memories of Byers Rd & Sauchiehall street!

      • Cool. I didn’t know you’d stayed here. I bet you really miss the Glasgow summer. All 5 minutes of it!

        On the book suggestion front. I’m currently reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and really enjoying that too. And Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralnick was superb too (if you’re interested in Elvis anyway). I’m going to start the next one Careless Love when I’m finished my current book.

      • But it’s tough to argue with those long June/July days, sunsets close to 11pm!

      • Really? Hadn’t thought of that. What’s it like where you are?

      • The summer days aren’t quite that long – though I suppose the trade-off in the winter is they aren’t as short as in the UK. We break-even I guess!

      • Yeah it’s swings and roundabouts I suppose. You get silly amounts of snow and we get perpetually drenched!

  7. This is mighty ambitious. I tip my hat to ya.

    Recommendations … hmm, I’ve only read a handful o’ books in the last 12 months (blame Neil Young’s incredibly dull Waging Heavy Peace for that!) and I don’t tend to read much fiction. Anyhoo, here’s a couple o’ page turners for your consideration (if you haven’t read any already)

    Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold (a favourite of mine!)
    Matchstick Men – Eric Garcia
    The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau – Graeme Macrae Burnet
    Anything you can find / haven’t read by Cormac McCarthy
    I, Fatty – Jerry Stahl

    • I heard that about Neil Young’s book – and from what I gather, it wasn’t terribly linear either, just a collection of long, random memories.
      So I’ll skip that one and try one of your other suggestions, thanks J!

      • Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone – he spends an awfy long time talking about his models and his new lossless audio invention. Anyhoo, good luck with the book project!

    • Yup that Young book was terrible. I didn’t even finish it.

    • He even has another one now, I saw. Meh.

      • Jings. I’m going nowhere near that …

  8. Fantastic project, all the best with it! Look forward to reading your thoughts on the books you choose.

    Here are some recommendations (including plenty of books by women for a diverse reading year as well as a busy one!):

    Science fiction: Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. A cornerstone classic of science fiction that raises deep questions about utopia, anarchy & how our needs as individuals are balanced against society.

    Crime: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (has a horror tint to it). I also love anything by Dennis Lehane, especially Mystic River (far better than the film, in my opinion). And I thought Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl matched the hype, I really enjoyed it.

    Ghosts/Horror: Dark Matter by Michelle Paver is worth picking up. No gore, more of a ghost story. Historic English atmosphere (think The Woman in Black). Follows a Londoner travelling to the Artic.

    If you enjoy literary fiction, my favourites over the past year or so include Elena Ferrante’s work (Italian novelist), Cesar Aira (Argentina) and Edward St Aubyn (English – his Mother’s Milk trilogy is dark and devastating). Down The Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos is also worth checking out & is a page-turning, quick read (only 130 pages). It’s smart and funny. Told from the point of view of the young son of a drug baron.

    In non-fiction, I’ve enjoyed a lot of Scottish history and politics recently because of our referendum in 2014! But three of my all-time favourite non-fiction books are Dispatches by Michael Herr (journalist in the Vietnam war), The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley (how humans behave in disaster scenarios) and Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit (a beautifully written meditation on the history of walking).

    • Thank you evastalker, that looks like a solid list! I just finished a fun one by Judy Greer, “I don’t know what you know me from” – exactly the kind of light read I enjoy in between noels. I think I’ll check out that rabbit hole one sooner rather than later!

      • Thanks! Have just looked up the Greer, looks like a lot of fun. Love the title.

      • I applaud how she’s the definitive ‘that girl from that movie’ and she’s proud to be in that role!

  9. I have several books to recommend, but here’s a start:
    Neil Peart’s books in particular – all of them are quite good. But, I’d start with his first one, “the Masked Rider” where he tours Africa on bicycle.
    “The Long Walk” by Stephen King
    “The Mosquito Coast” by Paul Theroux – one of the best books I’ve ever read
    And I will also recommend Art Spiegelman’s MAUS I and II (graphic novel).

    Reading a book a week is next to impossible for me (slow reader), but I am committed to reading this year. New year’s resolution 🙂

  10. I’ve read a huge number of books in my life, probably more than anyone I know personally. Below are some, old and new, which were not only for me a cut above the rest, but should also be interesting for other people. All are real page-turners and very well written; books of substance which are also very entertaining. I’ll be really disappointed if they are not all on your list. 🙂

    Music: Keith Richards, Life.

    Science fiction: Isaac Asimov, The End of Eternity

    Science fiction: Arthur C. Clarke: The City and the Stars

    Philosophy: Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila

    Geology: Simon Winchester: The Map That Changed the World

    History and cartography: Toby Lester, The Fourth Part of the World

    Mathematics and Logic: Martin Gardner/Lewis Carroll: The Annotated Alice and The Annotated Hunting of the Snark

    Anthropology and Evolution: Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden

    Psychology: Steven Pinker: How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate

    Cosmology: Dennis Overby, Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos

    Cosmology: Edward Harrison, Cosmology: The Science of the Universe

    Cosmology: John D. Barrow, The Book of Universes

    Honorable mention: I haven’t read it yet, but based on other stuff I’ve read by him, Pete Townshend’s autobiography Who I Am just has to be good.

    • That’s terrific Phillip, thank you very much – I like the diverse mix. That’s the 2nd Asimov recommendation so it sounds like he’s going to be on the bookshelf for sure!

  11. Will you be reviewing the books you read anywhere?

    • The vision is yes! I’ll play around with the wordpress site to see if I can link it to the 50 book pledge site. There are different pledge levels too Sarca, if you’re inspired to read I think they have anywhere from a 25-book pledge to a 250-book!

      • Thanks for the invite!! 🙂
        Eva Stalker invited me to join her #TBR20 with HMO, and since I am a book buyer-junkie, I am working up the courage to commit to her challenge. That’ll complete the year, methinks. We’ll see. And since my WP site is more diversified, I will post reviews as I read. Got one in the coffers already. 🙂

      • That TBR project is brilliant – read the old before in with the new.
        I look forward to the book reviews – and speaking of courage, I’d love to see a deluxe edition fully completely review as well!

  12. Great idea, go for Haruki Murakami ‘Norwegian Wood’, i love that book.

  13. Lots of good suggestions already made. I’m an avid reader, so I’ll just suggest some authors whose books I’ve consistently enjoyed. Music: Peter Guralnick, Greil Marcus (his new one is a nice place to start), David Hajdu; Fiction: Kazuo Ishiguro, Alice Munro, Graham Greene; Nonfiction (other than music): Lawrence Wright, Malcolm Gladwell, Candice Millard. Hope that helps!

  14. Tangled Up In Music (by Ovidiu Boar) permalink

    As far as rock bios go, Dear Boy by Tony Fletcher on the endlessly fascinating Keith Moon is the best I’ve read.

    For others, I’m partial to Stephen King’s Misery. Horror or not, this is brilliantly written, one of those books that is, as the cliche goes, impossible to put down. The protagonists’s stream-of-consciousness throughout the story is King at his best, in my opinion.

    • Thanks Ovidiu – and I suppose cliches are cliches for a reason, if it’s impossible to put down, that sounds good to me!

  15. One more recommendation: anything by Neal Stephenson. But definitely Cryptonomicon. Sooooo good!!!

  16. do you have a TARDIS? gosh. I’m so lazy.

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