Reading a book per month

When I talked about Quadrant II, I also mentioned coming up with a long list of goals for things to accomplish over the next few years. Two related goals were:

  • Read one book per month.
  • Read the entire Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson

Stephenson is my favorite author. I've enjoyed reading (multiple times) every single book that he has ever written or co-written. His latest effort is a three-volume, eight-book set called "The Baroque Cycle". It starts with the volume Quicksilver, and continues with The Confusion and The System of the World. I picked the first up a few years ago and have tried, valiantly, to get through it on more than one occasion. You see, every other book he's written is set in the present, pseudo-future or cyberpunk-future. Those genres are fairly easy to read about. TBC, on the other hand, is set in the late 17th and early 18th century - the time of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton and the like.

Stephenson is also very verbose. He's highly criticized for this, among other things. However, he says the following, with which I wholeheartedly agree:

Personally, I am delighted to read extremely long books, or series of books, as long as they hold my interest.

This is, admittedly, the very reason why it has taken me so long to get into these books. It's harder to get lost in the verbosity about the old world than a fantastical future one, at least for me. However, in the spirit of killing at least two birds with a single stone, I've decided to start out my reading of a book per month with the rest of TBC. Difficult, to say the least, but not nearly as hard as I remember it being the first time. In more recent years, I've begun to have a greater appreciation for history in general. So it was none too shocking to find myself more easily engaged by this book now than I was two or three years ago.

I had a fairly solid recollection of the events in the first book in volume I, also titled Quicksilver, so I decided to start off with the second book, The King of the Vagabonds (which is really funny to read when you picture the main character as Johnny Depp's Captain Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean). I finished it a few days ago, thus getting this goal off to a good start, and went right on into the third, and final, book of Volume I, Odalisque. February looks promising.

I can't complement Stephenson's writing enough. I'm never bored and often get lost in the worlds he creates. My only hope is that he happens to have something else coming on the horizon that I can start reading in later months. My backup plan is to read the rest of the writings of another favorite author, William Gibson.

Feb 1st, 2008