I Have a Confession to Make

The other day, I wrote a post about a possible Generation Gap in reading among writers. I suspect this gap is more from the point of view of younger writers, and that a lot of older writers are doing a decent job of keeping up with the young folks.

I should also confess that a lot of that post is pointed straight at myself. I don’t read well outside of my acquaintances/outside of newer writers. For me it’s been partly trying to give support to new people so they keep writing and the sense that the established writer didn’t need my help since they were already established. And–for short fiction–it’s also partly that a lot of my print subscriptions take the back seat to online fiction. I don’t always remember to carry print magazines with me, but I can access the Internet most anywhere these days. Then I go back and try to catch up on my print subscriptions to varied success.

A few years back I went on a minor shopping spree at a Worldcon, and bought a bunch of older science fiction novels like Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, On the Beach by Nevil Shute, Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr., and E. E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman books. I figured I needed to know more about the field and needed to dive in and start reading. I don’t think I spent much more than $20 on the 20 or so books I bought.

Here’s a complete list of the titles although sadly I note that I somehow no longer have Stars My Destination or On the Beach. There may be a few more titles in my collection that I bought that day, but I think this is everything.

Still, it can be embarrassing at times when I haven’t read something that a lot of the field knows. I’ve never read any Poul Anderson, A. E. Van Vogt, Bruce Sterling, James Blish, Lois McMaster Bujold, C. J. Cherryh, Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon, or Cordwainer Smith to name a few. And then there are the books that didn’t hold my interest but I still feel that I should read, such as Dhalgren or Foundation or Gormenghast (although I did see the BBC series).

What about you? Who or what haven’t you read that you think you should?


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