05 May Gotta Read ‘Em All!

Like most people of a bookish persuasion, I have a large pile of books I plan to one day read. This pile has steadily grown over the years, so much so that it is now less of a pile and more of a large portion of my bookshelves. It’s been playing on my mind recently, as we’ve been having a bit of a clear out at home, and I’ve realised just how many books I own I have never read. It’s a lot. To my shame, some of them have barely been touched since I bought them.

Now I realise I’m in a very fortunate position, being able to buy books and have them sit on shelves unread for years and years. There are a lot of people who’d like those books, or else the money that bought them. So I’ve resolved not to buy any more books until I’ve read all the ones I’ve got. And when I’m done with them – and some books you’re never done with, long after you’ve read them – I’m going to give them away to schools and libraries, so other people can enjoy them.

daniel whelan's to be read pile

The pile in full. All the junk in my bedroom has been badly photoshopped out to save your eyes.

I’m going to write a blog post about each book after I’ve read it, but I won’t be reviewing them. I’m going to try and keep it positive, though I’ll be a bit more robust about books by dead authors. The reason for this is: the dead can better take it. Since The Box of Demons came out, I’ve had the strange experience of being reviewed for the first time. I’m very fortunate in that most of the reviews have been positive, but occasionally there have been ones that have stung. Even the most harmless or benign of criticisms can really stick in your craw as an author. You know it’s silly, you know it’s not worth worrying about, you know better than anyone else on the planet how imperfect your book is, but it still bothers you. I don’t want to add to the anxiety of another writer, so I won’t be turning reviewer. So instead I’ll talk about what I liked about it, as well how and why the book came into my possession. Hopefully you’ll get to know me a bit better this way.

The complete list is available to view on my Goodreads page, in the ‘gotta-read-em-all’ list. There are sixty three books altogether, so I expect this will take at least a year.

Here are the rules of Project Gotta Read ‘Em All:

1. The pile shall be read in strict alphabetical order, by author.

2. The pile will be my only reading material until the pile is read (though the extra-curricular reading of comic books is totally okay).

3. Books can be skipped if I haven’t read earlier ones in the same series. (This is going to happen more often than you’d expect, but we’ll get to that.)

4. I’m allowed to buy The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter when it comes out. These last five years I’ve had a bit of a holiday tradition: I’ve bought my copy of the latest Long Earth book in the airport, and then later treated myself to an afternoon reading it in the hotel bar. As this will be the last one, I don’t intend to break with tradition.

5. Any books received as presents will be shelved until after the pile is read.

6. I can skip forward into the pile or read something not of the pile if work demands it. For example, if I get a cracking idea for a book about aliens fighting Genghis Khan or something then you better believe I’ll be ditching this little project in favour of some hardcore history book reading.

7. I can change the rules any time I like.

The first book will be Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I’ll be tagging each post with #gottareademall as well as the author and title, so you can better follow the posts.

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