It’s May, the season for flowers, graduations and assessing your progress on the Read Harder Challenge. I’m sure there are a handful of overachievers who have zipped through all 24 categories on the checklist already. The rest of us, however, still have several titles to curate. Here are a few suggestions for challenge number three — a classic of genre fiction.
Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” has also been published under the title “Blade Runner.” It has inspired a movie, a TV show and a series of graphic novels. The novel is an android-filled contemplation on the nature of consciousness. Sort of. Any androids reading this? If you were an android, would you know?
“The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin is a book about walls: physical, psychological and social. The story begins with a physicist crossing a wall that contains the only “no trespassing” sign on his entire planet. Le Guin’s science fiction has space ships and cool technology, but it’s less about the wow factor of the technology than about its effect on societies and individuals.
“The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins was the “Harry Potter” of its day in terms of popularity and cultural influence. Published in 1854, it set the standard for mystery novels. It’s tale of mysterious characters and devious plots, assumed identities and international intrigue, family scandals and thwarted love.
Agatha Christie may not have invented the mystery novel, but she took whodunits to a whole new level. “And Then There Were None” endures as an unsurpassed example of the locked room mystery. Ten strangers are drawn together on a private island. Then there are nine. Then eight. One of them is a killer.
Jane Austen’s “Emma” is a terrible matchmaker, and her persistent practice does not make perfect. She sets up one disastrous pairing after another. Emma’s friend, Harriet, is her most frequent and willing victim. Busy as she is meddling in the lives all around her, Emma fails to notice what is developing within her own heart. One of the funniest rom coms ever to see print.
“The Princess Bride” by William Goldman, is one of the most quoted romances of the past few decades, thanks to the cult status of the movie. It’s a thrilling tale of swashbuckling adventure, featuring princesses, pirates, revenge and twu wuv.
For readers who find my above descriptions insufficiently scintillating, more titles can be found on our catalog list.